Quality of life can be defined as a combination of (objective) environmental factors and (subjective) reflections on current and future wellbeing. The concept of quality of life could allow for a better balance between the full range of annoyances and the benefits of aviation. Airport policymakers do acknowledge that the concept of quality of life has potential. Still, the gap between academic research and operational practice is broad. Projects related to the quality of life in the aviation sector remain, for a vast part, scientifically undocumented.
Quality of life may appear as a concept that is too fuzzy for operational use. Yet, ANIMA believes that if airports were to be provided with practical and scientifically motivated tools, they would be able to implement quality of life successfully in their annoyance strategy.
ANIMA has performed a literature review beyond the field of aviation and noise, encompassing human factors in general. After that, it compiled, reviewed and classified the information with a rigorous process.
For each dimension, ANIMA reviewed relevant indicators and assessed their suitability to airports. Moreover, ANIMA received inputs from some European airports (Amsterdam Schiphol, London Heathrow, Frankfurt and Iasi). Some of them already had projects related to the quality of life.
Based on the reviews and interviews, ANIMA has developed a conceptual audit framework that will let airports improve their current noise mitigation activities in this area with a more systematic and critical approach to quality of life (click here to access the document Study to identify the gaps – Quality of Life indicators). The audit framework would allow airports to categorise their existing quality of life interventions against a comprehensive list of quality of life topics and dimensions and they will able to:
- Identify the range and performance of their quality of life activities;
- Understand how these relate to the quality of life topics and dimensions;
- Develop a rationale for why certain dimensions or topics may be out of the scope of other noise indicators; and
- Highlight priority areas for development to minimise noise annoyance.
It is important to note that all changes, even interventions for improving quality of life, have winners and losers. Assuming the airport is already within its legal limits, the audit framework developed by ANIMA can be used to review existing measures in a single coherent overview. Then comes the shared responsibility of the airport policymakers and the community to set priorities among the dimensions and to select the indicators for tracking performance, and also set goals to strive for.
The participation of local and regional authorities and communities is desirable for three main reasons:
- Local community input makes it easier to set priorities;
- Different groups among the community can be heard;
- The responsibility of the outcome (both positive and negative) is shared.
Together, the airport and community can use the concept of quality of life, the indicators and the audit framework to improve airport community relations and make more effective interventions that provide real benefit to those living near an airport.