Modern noise levels
Aircraft today are much quieter than they were 40, 30 or even 20 years ago, with these being replaced by even quieter aircraft in the future. However, even though each individual aircraft is quieter, there are more aircraft flying today and this means that although the average level of noise is lower than before, you hear individual aircraft more often. This makes it even more important that we keep on working to get the noise levels down.
The following contour maps detail the shrinking noise contours since 1990.
View decrease in noise contours (2MB PDF)
Why am I hearing aircraft noise?
If you are hearing aircraft noise then it will mean you live or work near Edinburgh Airport or directly under a flight path. This will mean you'll potentially hear aircraft approaching, landing and taking off.
How and why is airport noise measured?
Aircraft noise is measured for many reasons. It is important to know whether the noise levels are going up or down over time, and if so, by how much. We have three off-airport noise monitors to assist us in measuring aircraft noise.
Under UK legislation the most common method for measuring noise at airports is the Equivalent Continuous Sound Level, dB LAeq which predicts average noise levels for the busiest 16 hours of the day, between 0700 - 2300 from mid-June to mid-September. In line with UK Government policy, this metric is used in the production of airport masterplans.
What's the average noise level near you?
The UK Government advises that communities are significantly affected by aircraft noise above 57dB LAeq. This is used as the starting point in airport and aircraft noise policies. The contours are presented from 57 to 72 dB LAeq in steps of 3 dB. When assessing loudness a change of 3 dB is the minimum perceptible under normal conditions.
To show where the different average noise levels are around the airport, the Government has developed maps showing 'noise contours'. Below is a link to the 'noise contour map' for the area around Edinburgh. The map shows the contours for 2011, combining noise for all flights, regardless of the wind direction and therefore of the direction the aircraft were flying. The contours are an irregular shape because you get more noise at the ends of the runway (where aircraft take off and land) than at the sides.
How many people are affected?
In the last 20 years the Edinburgh Airport 57dB noise contour has shrunk to an area of 13km2. This is because aircraft are quieter than they used to be. Based on the 2011 Census data there are around 3,300 people within this contour.