Reducing the ‘roar’ of aviation noise: better, but not enough

Photo credit: Oleksandr P

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

In this Airways Magazine article, author Fabrizio Spicuglia informs us that aircraft noise has been reduced by at least 75% in the last 50 years. He does not, however, provide a source for this assertion. He goes on to say that more needs to be done to lessen aircraft nose. Aircraft manufacturers are making efforts to improve their aircraft, which includes making them less noisy, he said.

We learn that there are now fewer flights from Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany; the expansion of a third runway at Heathrow Airport in London has been delayed; and there is the possibility that flights at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam will be fewer, especially with the recent request to ban night flights. Readers are reminded that efforts are being made to reduce plane noise. For example, airports and airline companies have modified departures and introduced engine noise suppressors.  

We also learn that the Federal Aviation Administration has been restricting noisy planes and providing soundproofing for houses affected by aircraft noise. According to Spicuglia, the United States and the European Union may not be taking the same approaches to reducing aircraft noise, but they still have a “commitment” to making aviation less noisy.

While it may be welcoming to read an article on how airlines and airports recognize the need to reduce aviation noise, I would have appreciated an acknowledgement that aircraft noise is a health hazard. Residents living near airports are not “just tired” of asking for less noisy aircraft. They are struggling with the adverse impacts of aircraft noise on their mental and physical health.

Additionally, the “Problems Caused by Noise” section appears to refer to airlines’ and airports’ problems because residents living with aircraft noise are asking for noise reduction. Really? Asking to reduce aviation noise because of health issues has apparently created problems for airlines and airports. Am I to assume that if there were no complaints about aircraft noise that airlines and airports would have fewer problems to deal with?  

The title of this article, “Silencing the Roar: Noise Pollution in Aviation” can refer to silencing the actual “roar” of planes over the heads of residents living near airports or the “roar” of these residents pleading for less aviation noise. Whatever the interpretation, the only way to reduce the “roar” is to lessen aviation noise.      

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