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Presenting a more transparent picture of Aircraft noise

The concept of ‘surprise noise’ has much wider applicability than just situations of house purchase. For example, in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) examining the construction of a new runway, if the noise is not adequately described there is a high likelihood that when the new runway opens many people will find that the noise is louder than they expected and they will believe that they have been misled. Similarly, members of the public will be sceptical if ‘official’ information shows that aircraft noise around an airport has reduced over a period of time when their perception is that it has increased.

Photo of a planeIn all of these situations, if trust is to be built between airports and communities it is important that aircraft noise information establishes a transparent link between what is described and what a member of the public actually experiences. Ideally the noise exposure patterns also need to be described using information that can be independently verified without special expertise or equipment.

Experience has shown that describing aircraft noise in terms of where aircraft fly, the times and numbers of overflights, the loudness of individual noise events, etc is likely to give a person a good feel for aircraft noise exposure patterns. Conventionally disaggregated information of this type has not been readily available—aircraft noise has commonly been described using noise contours which aggregate and average out the various noise components.

A number of new ways to describe aircraft noise have been developed in recent years in response to public requests for more comprehensible aircraft noise information. These are described in a Discussion Paper released by the Department entitled ‘Expanding ways to describe and assess aircraft noise’.

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Last Updated: 28 February, 2013