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Step into the airport noise lab: Monitor volume of passing planes live and learn about aircraft noise rules

Last updated Jun 23, 2023

We know aircraft noise can have an impact on communities near the airport and close to our flight paths, and it’s something we take very seriously.

That’s why we created the Edinburgh Airport Noise Lab – a handy interactive tool which allows people to monitor the volume of aircraft in almost real time (there can be a lag of a few minutes).

So whether you’re curious about what you just heard overhead, or simply want to learn more about aircraft noise and our flight paths, there’s a good chance you’ll find what you’re looking for in the online lab.

Noise lab sounds quite complicated – how easy is it to use?

Very easy. Through the lab you can download historic noise and flight path information to help you understand flight paths and the noise climate in your area. Contour mapping and our noise management plans and actions can also be found.

In the lab you’ll also find our flight tracker which is linked to the radar in our Air Traffic Control tower. It works a bit like those flight radar websites many of us are so familiar with.

When you enter the flight tracker you’re presented with a map view of Edinburgh Airport and the surrounding areas. Here you can see the aircraft arriving and departing the airport, along with details such as flight number, aircraft type, speed and altitude.

Noise lab radar

Three noise monitors are in place beneath the flight path close to the airport – at Cramond, Broxburn and Livingston. These display the noise level of each plane in decibels as it passes overhead. The monitors are essentially highly sensitive microphones connected to a sophisticated recording device.

Are there noise limits for aircraft?

Volume limits are in place, and fines of up to £2,000 are issued by the airport should any aircraft exceed these.=

Between 6am and 11.30pm the limit is 94 decibels, and through the night it is 87 decibels. Edinburgh Airport is a 24-hour operation and planes are departing and arriving all hours although those at night time are mainly cargo and mail operations rather than passenger flights, and there are far fewer of them.

What causes aircraft noise?

There are two main causes – engines and air passing over the airframe, fuselage and wings causing friction. The level of noise can also depend on the type of aircraft and weather conditions on the day.

Surprisingly, factors such as the weight of the aircraft, its cargo and passengers, and the amount of fuel can also play a part.

Advancements in technology are resulting in aircraft noise becoming quieter, and this trend should continue into the future.

We work with the Civil Aviation Authority who set airspace policy alongside airline partners and Air Traffic Control to address the issue of noise.

You can check out or designated Edinburgh Airport Noise Lab website by clicking here. Here you will also find information on how to make noise complaints or enquiries should you wish.

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