Balanced Approach to Aircraft Noise Management

In 2001, the ICAO Assembly endorsed the concept of a "balanced approach" to aircraft noise management (Appendix C of Assembly Resolution A35-5 (pdf)). The Assembly in 2007, reaffirmed the "balanced approach" principle and called upon States to recognize ICAO’s role in dealing with the problems of aircraft noise (Appendix C of Assembly Resolution A36-22 (pdf)). This consists of identifying the noise problem at an airport and then analysing the various measures available to reduce noise through the exploration of four principal elements, namely reduction at source (quieter aircraft), land-use planning and management, noise abatement operational procedures and operating restrictions, with the goal of addressing the noise problem in the most cost-effective manner. ICAO has developed policies on each of these elements, as well as on noise charges. The recommended practices for balanced approach are contained in Doc 9829 – Guidance on the balanced approach to aircraft noise management.

Reduction of Noise at Source

Much of ICAO's effort to address aircraft noise over the past 40 years has been aimed at reducing noise at source. Aeroplanes and helicopters built today are required to meet the noise certification standards adopted by the Council of ICAO. These are contained in Annex 16 — Environmental Protection, Volume I — Aircraft Noise to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, while practical guidance to certificating authorities on implementation of the technical procedures of Annex 16 is contained in the Environmental Technical Manual on the use of Procedures in the Noise Certification of Aircraft (Doc 9501).
The first generation of jet-powered aeroplanes was not covered by Annex 16 and these are consequently referred to as non-noise certificated (NNC) aeroplanes (e.g. Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8). The initial standards for jet-powered aircraft designed before 1977 were included in Chapter 2 of Annex 16. The Boeing 727 and the Douglas DC-9 are examples of aircraft covered by Chapter 2. Subsequently, newer aircraft were required to meet the stricter standards contained in Chapter 3 of the Annex. The Boeing 737-300/400, Boeing 767 and Airbus A319 are examples of "Chapter 3" aircraft types. In June 2001, on the basis of recommendations made by the fifth meeting of the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP/5), the Council adopted a new Chapter 4 noise standard, more stringent than that contained in Chapter 3. Starting 1 January 2006, the new standard became applicable to newly certificated aeroplanes and to Chapter 3 aeroplanes for which re-certification to Chapter 4 is requested. Most recently, CAEP/8 in February 2010 requested the noise technical group to review and analyze certification noise levels for subsonic jet and heavy propeller driven-driven aeroplanes and, based on the analysis, develop a range of increased stringency options. This analysis will be considered at the CAEP/9 meeting in 2013.
A Noise database NoisedB was developed in 2006 by the French DGCA under the aegis of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The database is intended to be a general source of information to the public on certification noise levels for each aircraft type as provided by certification authorities.

Land-use Planning and Management

Land-use planning and management is an effective means to ensure that the activities nearby airports are compatible with aviation. Its main goal is to minimize the population affected by aircraft noise by introducing land-use zoning around airports. Compatible land-use planning and management is also a vital instrument in ensuring that the gains achieved by the reduced noise of the latest generation of aircraft are not offset by further residential development around airports. ICAO guidance on this subject is contained in Annex 16, Volume I, Part IV and in the Airport Planning Manual, Part 2 — Land Use and Environmental Control (Doc 9184). The manual provides guidance on the use of various tools for the minimization, control or prevention of the impact of aircraft noise in the vicinity of airports and describes the practices adopted for land-use planning and management by some States. In addition, with a view to promoting a uniform method of assessing noise around airports, ICAO recommends the use of the methodology contained in Recommended Method for Computing Noise Contours around Airports (Circular 205).

Noise Abatement Operational Procedures

Noise abatement procedures enable reduction of noise during aircraft operations to be achieved at comparatively low cost. There are several methods, including preferential runways and routes, as well as noise abatement procedures for take-off, approach and landing. The appropriateness of any of these measures depends on the physical lay-out of the airport and its surroundings, but in all cases the procedure must give priority to safety considerations. ICAO's noise abatement procedures are contained in Annex 16, Volume I, Part V and Procedures for Air Navigation ServicesAircraft Operations (PANS-OPS, Doc 8168), Volume I — Flight Procedures, Part V. On the basis of recommendations made by CAEP/5, new noise abatement take-off procedures became applicable in November 2001. Doc 9888 – Review of noise abatement research and development and implementation projects contains a summary of two surveys of key aviation stakeholders conducted in 2006 and 2009.

Operating Restrictions

Noise concerns have led some States, mostly developed countries, to consider banning the operation of certain noisy aircraft at noise-sensitive airports. In the 1980s, the focus was on NNC aircraft; in the 1990s, it moved to Chapter 2 aircraft; today, it has moved to the noisiest Chapter 3 aircraft. However, operating restrictions of this kind can have significant economic implications for the airlines concerned, both those based in the States taking action and those based in other States (particularly developing countries) that operate to and from the affected airports. On each occasion, the ICAO Assembly succeeded in reaching an agreement – contained in an Assembly resolution – that represented a careful balance between the interests of developing and developed States and took into account the concerns of the airline industry, airports and environmental interests.
In the case of Chapter 2 aircraft, the ICAO Assembly in 1990 urged States not to restrict aircraft operations without considering other possibilities first. It then provided a basis on which States wishing to restrict operations of Chapter 2 aircraft may do so. States could start phasing out operations of Chapter 2 aircraft from 1 April 1995 and have all of them withdrawn from service by 31 March 2002. However, prior to the latter date, Chapter 2 aircraft were guaranteed 25 years of service after the issue of their first certificate of airworthiness. Thus Chapter 2 aircraft which had completed less than 25 years of service on 1 April 1995 were not immediately affected by this requirement. Similarly, widebody Chapter 2 aircraft and those fitted with quieter (high by-pass ratio) engines were not immediately affected after 1 April 1995. Many developed countries including Australia, Canada, the United States and many in Europe, have since taken action on the withdrawal of operations of Chapter 2 aircraft at their airports, taking due account of the Assembly's resolution. This has had a substantial impact in reducing noise levels at many airports. However, the benefits of removing Chapter 2 aircraft have now been largely achieved.
In the case of Chapter 3 aircraft, the ICAO Assembly in 2001 urged States not to introduce any operating restrictions at any airport on Chapter 3 aircraft before fully assessing available measures to address the noise problem at the airport concerned in accordance with the balanced approach. The Assembly also listed a number of safeguards that would need to be met if restrictions are imposed on Chapter 3 aircraft. For example, restrictions should be based on the noise performance of the aircraft and should be tailored to the noise problem of the airport concerned, and the special circumstances of operators from developing countries should be taken into account (Appendix E of Assembly Resolution A35-5 (PDF)).

Noise Charges

ICAO's policy with regard to noise charges was first developed in 1981 and is contained in ICAO's Policies on Charges for Airports and Air Navigation Services (Doc 9082/6). The Council recognizes that, although reductions are being achieved in aircraft noise at source, many airports need to apply noise alleviation or prevention measures. The Council considers that the costs incurred may, at the discretion of States, be attributed to airports and recovered from the users. In the event that noise-related charges are levied, the Council recommends that they should be levied only at airports experiencing noise problems and should be designed to recover no more than the costs applied to their alleviation or prevention; and that they should be non-discriminatory between users and not be established at such levels as to be prohibitively high for the operation of certain aircraft.
Practical advice on determining the cost basis for noise-related charges and their collection is provided in the ICAO Airport Economics Manual (Doc 9562), and information on noise-related charges actually levied is provided in the ICAO Manual of Airport and Air Navigation Facility Tariffs (Doc 7100).