- Experience from other airports
At a global level, regulatory responses to aircraft noise are influenced by the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which called for adopting the Balanced Approach to noise management at the ICAO 33rd Assembly on Aircraft noise in 2001.
Part of the Balanced Approach's rationale was that each airport's specific conditions are unique in terms of levels of traffic, the amount of night flying, proximity of the airport to built-up areas, and attitudes of local residents to noise. The Balanced Approach provides ICAO contracting states with an internationally agreed approach to address aircraft noise problems at individual airports in an environmentally responsive and economically responsible way. In so doing, it provides a flexible way to identify and transparently address specific noise problems. It comprises four principal elements:
- Reduction of noise at source – by encouraging the use of quieter aircraft;
- Land-use planning and management – to prevent noise-sensitive developments close to airports and flight paths, and to mitigate noise impacts (i.e. through sound insulation);
- Noise abatement via alternative operational procedures that may prevent overflight of noise-sensitive areas or require reduced engine thrust settings and therefore lessen the noise generated by aircraft;
- Operating restrictions on aircraft at sensitive times (e.g. at night) or in terms of absolute numbers of movements.
The Guidance on the Balanced Approach to Aircraft Noise Management states that operating restrictions should only be applied as a last resort, after the other elements have been considered and applied where appropriate. It acknowledges the key role played by aviation in the global socio-economic system, and that reductions in noise can be achieved at a lower economic cost when a stronger focus is placed on the other Balanced Approach elements.
The ICAO Balanced Approach is transposed into European Law through EU Directive 2002/30/EC, later replaced by Regulation (EU) No 598/2014. The exact implementation of the four Balanced Approach elements is at the contracting states' command. They can also choose to delegate their powers to a competent authority to conduct noise assessments, develop noise action plans, or perform a cost-benefit analysis.
The Balanced Approach helps to guide airports in developing noise management options by identifying types of actions that airports can undertake. These may arise as a result of new technology, community complaints, or other opportunities.
The development of new infrastructure may also increase the opportunities and challenges for noise management. See, for example, the case at Frankfurt Airport. Noise management approaches and challenges found in other sectors may also provide insight for synergies with airport noise management.
It is also important to consider interdependencies with other environmental impacts when pursuing noise management actions to avoid unintended consequences elsewhere. These include air quality emissions, carbon emissions and ecological factors.