Causes of aircraft noise
If we’re talking basic physics, the noise from a plane is caused by two things: by air going over its fuselage and wings (or ‘airframe’) and by the engines.
Airframe noise occurs when air passes over the plane’s body (the fuselage) and its wings. This causes friction and turbulence, which make a noise. Even gliders make a noise when in flight – and they have no engines at all. The amount of noise this creates can vary – according to the way the plane is flown – even for identical aircraft. Planes land with their flaps down which creates more friction (and produces more noise) than a plane with its flaps up
Engine noise is created by the sound from the moving parts of the engine, and also by the air being expelled at high speed once it has passed through the engine. Most of the engine noise comes from the exhaust or jet behind the engine as it mixes with the air around it.
Modern noise levels
Aircraft today are much quieter than they were 40, 30 or even 20 years ago. And these will be replaced by even quieter aircraft in the future.
But, of course, even though each individual aircraft is quieter, there are more planes flying today.
This means that the average level of noise is lower than before, but you hear individual planes more often. This makes it even more important that we keep on working to get the noise levels down. On this website we tell you what improvements have been, and are being made to aircraft design to reduce noise even more.
Why am I hearing aircraft noise?
If you are hearing aircraft noise, it will be for one or more of these reasons:
- You live or work very close to the airport, and hear planes landing, taking off and on the ground.
- You live or work under a flight path and hear planes taking off.
- You live or work under the approach path and hear planes coming in to land.
- You live or work under an aircraft ‘stack’ and hear planes in the stack.
- You live or work between a stack and an airport and hear planes as they approach the airport.