- Understanding aviation noise
- Improving impact management
- Communication and engagement
Factors in a person‘s physical and social environment and within a person‘s self (e.g. attitudes, noise sensitivity) influence a person’s response to aircraft noise (Haubrich et al., 2019; Bartels et al., 2021). One factor of a person’s environment are the various media sources available today. Newspapers, for example, are an important medium to inform the public about various topics including airport-related topics. Therefore, media coverage is discussed as a potential influencing factor for the perception of and reaction to aircraft noise exposure. Research on other noise sources showed that people’s reaction to noise exposure was to some extent determined by the tone of media articles they were shown beforehand (Crichton et al., 2014; 2015). Media coverage can further inspire private discourse in one’s social environment, e.g. about noise policy or public discourse (Broer, 2007). Information from the media that is socially shared with any social contacts (family, friends, co-workers, etc.) might contribute to one’s expectations of the noise source and influence how the noise is perceived.
By re-analysing survey and exposure data from the comprehensive NORAH study (NOise-Related Annoyance, Cognition, and Health), which was conducted around Frankfurt Airport and other German airports, we investigated whether media coverage about specific aircraft noise-related topics had an effect on residents’ noise responses to local aircraft noise exposure. Residents living in the noise contour of 40 dB Lden around Frankfurt Airport were included in the study. Three annual study waves were conducted from 2011 to 2013. The first wave of the study was conducted in 2011 while several changes in the Autumn of 2011 were implemented at Frankfurt Airport: the opening of a new runway and the implementation of a night flight ban. These changes had an impact on the distribution of flights and use of flight paths. Participants could choose between telephone and online participation. Among others, the questionnaire comprised questions about living conditions, health measures, and noise annoyance due to different sources. For each participant, individual noise levels at the loudest façade of their residential building were calculated. In preparation of the media analysis media coverage from 2011 to 2013 about aircraft noise related topics from a specified range of sources were screened, documented and analysed. Media articles were categorised according to the content. The following media categories were examined in the analysis: ‘sound insulation’, ‘protest’, ‘noise exposure’, ‘increase in noise exposure’, ‘mistrust’, ‘night flight’, ‘flight path’. The individual relative media exposure about aircraft noise-related topics 180 days prior to the interview was calculated for each participant. The analysis was conducted with the sub-sample that participated in all three annual survey waves from 2011 to 2013, in total 3,308 participants.
Results of this media analysis indicate that media coverage about specific aircraft noise-related topics has an effect on aircraft noise responses (noise annoyance and sleep disturbances). This was specifically shown for articles relating to ‘sound insulation’ with an annoyance-elevating effect in the year 2012, for ‘flight path’ in the year 2011, in general for media about ‘noise exposure’, and ‘night flight’ with a decrease in annoyance in 2011 but an increase in sleep disturbance in 2011.
The results can be linked to several interventions in noise management. For instance, the annoyance elevating effect of media about ‘flight paths’ can be linked to changes in the operational configurations of flight paths that were conducted in preparation of the opening of the new runway in 2011. The decreasing effect of night flight related media on aircraft noise responses can be linked to the implementation of the night flight ban in 2011, which might reflect a buffering effect in expecting an improvement of the noise situation. One of the limitations of this analysis is that calculated media exposure does not necessarily reflect a person’s exposure to the specific media article, but it is assumed that it raises the odds that the topic resonates in private discourse.
In this media analysis effects of media coverage about several media categories on aircraft noise annoyance and sleep disturbance were observed. While it is not desired to influence media coverage, the results emphasize the importance of reasonable and transparent decisions in noise management as any intervention in noise management is accompanied by media attention. It further shows the importance of relatable communication and engagement activities during the process.