Aircraft Noise Management

The intention of this section is to provide general information on aircraft noise management.

Noise issues are best handled at the local level. Local representatives and airport-based staff have intimate knowledge of regional matters and are better able to address local concerns. 

Transport Canada provides oversight of this system, verifying that the policies and procedures work for the community, for the industry and for travellers. We do this in conjunction with third parties including Health Canada, NAV CANADA and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Transport Canada also enforces airport noise abatement procedures and operating restrictions.

Noise management is a complex issue with many variables: passengers want shorter flights; pilots want easier access to airports and fewer route limitations; airlines want to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions; and, developing countries need time to bring national fleets up to international aircraft noise standards. These factors must be considered when evaluating noise reduction strategies to benefit residents in areas exposed to aircraft noise.

Transport Canada and other responsible third parties have three principal noise reduction strategies: reducing the noise at the source, managing operational procedures and managing land-use in the vicinity of airports.

Reduction at source

Transport Canada’s noise standards and all Canadian aircraft are fully compliant with rigorous international standards. Transport Canada ensures compliance with the noise standards through the aircraft certification process. The ICAO noise standards are adopted into the Canadian Aviation Regulations, which set the standards for aircraft noise levels permitted in Canada. 

In 1996, in line with an ICAO resolution, Canada implemented a regulation that introduced the phase out of older, noisier aircraft.  Canada completed the phase out in 2002.  Since that time, ICAO has introduced stricter noise standards. The airworthiness certification process requires aircraft to be compliant with these noise standards.

Aircraft operational procedures

Local representatives can reduce aircraft noise by modifying aircraft operational procedures, including adding operating restrictions and noise abatement operational procedures. Examples of such activities include controlling the use of runways and routes or adjusting procedures for take-off, approach and landing.

These restrictions and procedures help aircraft operations at an airport comply with that airport’s surrounding area.

Transport Canada enforces and oversees changes to these restrictions and procedures. Day-to-day operations are handled locally at the airports and through NAV CANADA.

Airports should establish a noise management committee (comprised of air operators, airport tenants, as well as civic and citizen representatives) to deal with noise concerns.  At major airports, Transport Canada also provides a member to the committee. The committee develops any needed noise abatement proposals after it carries out an extensive consultation process with the local community and aviation stakeholders. 

Proposals are then forwarded to regional Transport Canada offices where they are reviewed and forwarded to headquarters (HQ) with a regional recommendation.  At HQ, the Domestic Aircraft Noise and Emissions Committee (D-ANEC) studies the proposal.  If all affected parties agree with the proposal, instructions are issued to the regional office to proceed with publication of the measure.  If a dissenting position is taken, then D-ANEC prepares briefing material and sends it with a recommendation to the Civil Aviation Regulatory Committee, which renders a decision.

Aircraft operators must comply with the noise operating restrictions and noise abatement procedures, which are published by NAV CANADA in the Canada Air Pilot and the Canadian Flight Supplement.  Penalties for violated these procedures and restrictions can be as high as $5,000 for an individual and $25,000 for a company, per violation. NAV CANADA updates these publications every 56 days to ensure flights are compliant with the latest operating standards.

Land-use planning and management

Transport Canada helps aviation planners and those responsible for development of lands adjacent to airports to implement smart zoning practices and properly manage land-use in the vicinity of airports.

Transport Canada uses a Noise Exposure Forecast (NEF) system to provide a measurement of the actual and forecasted aircraft noise in the vicinity of airports.  This system factors in the subjective reactions of the human ear to specific aircraft noise stimulus: loudness, frequency, duration, time of occurrence, tone, etc.

This metric allows us to predict a community’s response to aircraft noise. If the NEF level is greater than 35, complaints are likely to be high. Anything above 25 is likely to produce some level of annoyance. Land planners can use this system to ensure that land use in the vicinity of an airport is compatible with that airport.

Through the system, municipalities and local governments receive a basis for zoning and residents receive details of what may be expected in certain areas. The system prevents future complications.

Transport Canada recommends that where the NEF exceeds 30, new residential development should not proceed. If it does, regardless of this caution, a detailed noise analysis should be conducted and noise reduction practices should be implemented. In this scenario, it is the developer’s duty to inform all prospective residents of possible irritants.

In addition, Transport Canada recognizes that often provincial and municipal authorities require projections beyond five years for land-use planning, where conditions are certain to be different from today. For these purposes, Transport Canada uses the Noise Exposure Projection. The NEP projects aircraft movements and other changing variables ten to twenty years ahead, giving authorities a further perspective for zoning.

For further information, please contact:

Civil Aviation Communication Centre

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