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e-Digest Statistics about: Noise Pollution

Noise Incidence

Aircraft Noise

Table 3 shows, for major UK airports, data on air transport movements and the area and population affected by aircraft noise. Air transport movements comprise of landings or take-offs of aircraft engaged in the transport of passengers or cargo on commercial terms. All scheduled service movements, whether loaded or empty, charter movements transporting passengers or cargo and air taxi movements are included.

The equivalent continuous sound level (LAeq,T) is an index of aircraft noise exposure. It is a measure of the equivalent continuous sound level averaged over a 16 hour day from 0700 to 2300 hours and is taken during the peak summer months from mid-June to mid-September. The three contours shown in Table 3 represent cumulative levels of noise, i.e. 57 LAeq,T approximates the onset of significant community noise disturbance, 63 LAeq,T moderate disturbance, and 69 LAeq,T high disturbance. The population figures within each contour are estimated from census data. 1990 data was estimated using enumeration district (ED) data from the 1981 census. From 1991 onwards, figures based on the 1991 census data were subdivided into smaller postcode units enabling the population within the contours to be more reliably estimated. Larger aircraft and sound improvements in engine technology have meant that the areas and numbers of people affected by noise around many airports have not been increasing as quickly as air transport movements and aircraft passenger numbers.

The LAeq,T indexing system replaced the Noise and Numbering Index (NNI) system in 1990 for assessing population responses to aircraft noise. The LAeq,T contours used here are broadly comparable with the NNI; 35 NNI is broadly equivalent to 57 LAeq,T; 45 NNI to 63 LAeq,T and 55 NNI to 69 LAeq,T.

Table 4 gives the area and population around London Luton Airport exposed to different levels of aircraft noise at night. The LAeq,T contours shown are averaged over 8 hour periods from 2300 to 0700 hours. Measurements are taken during the summer from June to September when night-time air traffic is at its peak. The area and population exposed to night-time noise around London Luton Airport are much less than in the daytime (see Table 3) owing to restrictions on night-time flights.

In Detail:
Attitudes to noise
Noise Incidence outside the home
Further Information:
CAA (Civil Aviation Authority), Luton Borough Council
Data Tables:
Title Download
file type
3 Air traffic, passengers, area and population affected by noise around UK airports: 1990-2004
4 Area and population affected by night-time noise around London Luton Airport: 1990-2004

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Page last modified: 8 April 2005
Page published: 7 December 2004

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs