Canada: Aircraft Noise In The Vicinity Of Airports: Where Do We Stand?

Introduction

Over the last years, residents from different cities in Canada living near an airport have filed complaints about the noise caused by take-offs and landings of aircraft.1 With the growth of the aviation industry, the number of such complaints is likely to increase. Indeed, the projections for air traffic are evaluated to increase from 3.5 billion passengers in 2015 to 7.4 billion by 2034.2 Airports are expanding, new air routes are being created while existing routes are getting busier. 1397 airlines now serve 3864 airports worldwide through a route network of several million kms.3 Air transport has never been so accessible.

Noise is more than ever before a significant concern for the aviation industry. Aircraft noise is the subject of many policies illustrating the importance given to this significant aspect of aviation. Yet, aircraft are 50% quieter today than they were ten years ago and it is estimated that each new generation of aircraft will be at least 15% quieter than that generation of aircraft it replaces.4

This article will briefly go over the applicable international noise standards as well as the corresponding regulatory regimes in Canada and in the United States.  Before we begin though, let's first address what is meant by "aircraft noise".

1. What is Aircraft Noise?

Noise is a type of environmental pollution. "Noise pollution" itself is characterized as a "loud or unpleasant noise that is caused by automobiles, airplanes, etc., and that is harmful or annoying to the people who can hear it."5 In the case of aircraft noise, it mostly impacts the communities living within the vicinity of an airport.6 Exposure to excessive noise can have adverse effects on one's health, such as an increase of stress level, sleep disturbance and, more seriously, high blood pressure.7

Aircraft generates noise from two main sources: their engines and aerodynamics, which is the sound caused by the flow of air during a flight.8 But when does a mere sound become a noise? "Noise" can be defined as a "loud or unpleasant sound therefore any sound that is undesired or interferes with one's hearing."9

Thus, regulating and addressing issues relating to airport noise is a challenge as noise is primarily a matter of individual perception: what is considered disturbing for one person may not be disturbing at all for another one. Yet, sound is measured objectively in decibels. For example, a normal conversation is rated at 60 decibels (db) whereas noise from an Airbus A380 at take off (much louder) is at 85 db and an ambulance siren is at 120 db. In an attempt to address this noise impact, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aircraft noise standards use the "effective perceived noise level" (EPNdb) to evaluate the subjective effects of aircraft noise on human beings and set the maximum noise emissions levels. In simple terms, this metric is a measure of human annoyance to aircraft noise.

2. International Civil Aviation Organization Aircraft Noise Standards

First off, let's contemplate the mandate of ICAO. Interesting fact, the headquarters of this important organization are located in Montreal. This United Nations (UN) specialized agency's mandate is to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation which is referred as the Chicago Convention.10 This Convention consists of a set of aircraft standards concerning notably aircraft noise which are embedded specifically into Annex 16 of the Convention. Aircraft are classified in categories, known as Chapters, which are determined according to their year of design, type and weight. For each type and for each corresponding weight of aircraft, a maximum noise emission level is set (expressed in units of EPNdb). These noise emission levels are calculated on the basis of the following criteria: level, frequency, distribution and variation over time of aircraft noise.11 Basically, for the same category of aircraft, the more recent and light it is, the quieter the aircraft will be. ICAO adopted its first aircraft noise standard in 1972 for certain aircraft with a type certificate12 submitted before 6 October 1977 and it was included in Chapter 2 of the Annex 16 of the Chicago Convention and thereafter referred to as the "Chapter 2 Standard". The Boeing 727 and the Douglas DC-9 are examples of aircraft covered by Chapter 2.  Today, with the exception of smaller jets, Chapter 2 aircraft are only allowed in certain developing countries.13 At the beginning of the 2000's, a new Chapter 4 was adopted under the auspices of ICAO, with more stringent noise standards for aircraft with type certificates submitted on or after 1 January 2006. In 2014, ICAO adopted a new standard that will result in a reduction of 7 EPNdB compared to the current Chapter 4 Standard.14 This new standard will apply from 2018. The current requirements are therefore increasingly stringent due to the sophistication of technologies and the increase of aircraft performance.

In addition to the noise standards mentioned above, in 2001, ICAO adopted the so-called "balanced approach" with a view to assisting airports from around the world in developing noise reduction measures, while at the same time minimizing the negative impacts on traffic and on airline fleets. This approach calls for the identification of noise problems to subsequently analyze various measures that could be put in place to reduce the noise level. This approach  rests on four main pillars to be used in the most cost-effective and proportionate manner:15 (i) reduction at source,16 (ii) land-use planning and management, (iii) noise abatement operational procedures and, finally, as a last resort, (iv) operating restrictions like noise quotas or flight restrictions. Member States17 will therefore implement regulations in their local civil aviation operations to comply with those global norms.18 

3. Aircraft Noise Regulation in Canada and the United States

Both Canada and the U.S. have their own national legislation on aircraft noise, mostly based on ICAO standards discussed above. Both countries adopted in substance the balanced approach to noise management discussed above.19

a. Canada

Under the authority of the Aeronautics Act20 the Canadian Federal Government has adopted the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs),21 which is in essence a complete code regulating the operations of aircraft and airports across the country. Those regulations and standards provide the regulatory requirements concerning aircraft noise. Such regulations include procedures regarding the arrival and departure of aircraft, noise preferential routes or engine ground running and are designed to minimize the noise impact.22 For example, under the CARs, some Canadian airports have noise-restricted runways where aircraft operators of subsonic turbo-jet aeroplanes of a certain maximum take-off weight cannot operate, unless they meet certain criteria.23 Also, aircraft must obtain a Certificate of Noise Compliance to be allowed to operate in Canada.24

The CARs are overseen and enforced by Transport Canada. Penalties, per violation, for violating the CARs can reach $5,000 for an individual and $25,000 for a company.25 Transport Canada also participates in the development of land adjacent to airports. In this regard, the agency provides a system to measure the noise in the vicinity of airports. This system takes into account, amongst other things, the loudness, frequency, duration and time of occurrence to recommend the implantation of a new residential development or not.26 Additionally, the main airports in the country have operational restrictions concerning the traffic of airplanes during night-time hours.27

b. United States

In the United States, aviation is regulated on one hand by the Department of Transportation ("DOT"), the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA"), an agency of the DOT, and on the other hand, by the Transportation Security Administration ("TSA") and Custom and Border Protection ("CBP"), which are both agencies of the Department of Homeland Security. The FAA regulates, amongst others, the air safety, the certification of aircraft and airports as well as airport development and air traffic management.  It acts as the aircraft noise regulatory body in the United States.

In 1990, the US Congress enacted the Airport Noise and Capacity Act ("ANCA") that provided the FAA regulations with a prevailing status over local and municipal regulations relating to airport noise. Aircraft noise is regulated through standards which are applied to aircraft depending on their characteristics. Aircraft are classified into "stages" which determine the maximum noise level requirements they will have to meet.28 Therefore, each aircraft that is certified to operate in the U.S. needs to comply with those requirements. The regulation in place follows the ICAO standards. The FAA is anticipating putting in place the most stringent noise standard recently adopted by ICAO29 by the end of 2017, also referred to in the U.S. as Stage 5.30

Conclusion

Noise management is a very complex matter with many variables. Air traffic has become a fundamental component of the economy, and communities from around the world want their local air traffic to grow. Passengers want shorter flights, air carriers want easier access to airports and fewer route limitations, and they seek to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions. At the same time, there is growing awareness and mobilization on the part of citizens, and several actions or class actions in Canada and in the United States for nuisance or "neighbourhood disturbance" have been initiated over the last few years.31 However, airports in the U.S. and in Canada are making real efforts32 to take into account the noise associated with their operations and there is no doubt that the ICAO balanced approach and the ever quieter aircraft types are helping a lot. Efforts are being made at various levels to balance the conflicting interests at stake, which includes minimizing the impacts on neighboring communities.

Footnotes

1 Midtown Toronto residents filed several complaints relating to aircraft noise at Toronto Pearson Airport over the last years: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/05/11/noise-complaints-about-pearson-airport-win-a-fresh-look.html; Montreal residents have filed several complaints regarding aircraft noise at Montreal Trudeau Airport: http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/airplane-noise-is-a-problem-and-we-have-data-to-prove-it-montreal-residents-group-says; Same with some Vancouver residents regarding the Vancouver International Airport: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/airport-noise-3-people-made-66-per-cent-of-complaints-to-yvr-1.2933202.

2 http://www.iata.org/pressroom/pr/Pages/2015-11-26-01.aspx

3 Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) - http://www.atag.org/

4 http://aviationbenefits.org/environmental-efficiency/noise/

5 http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/noise+pollution?show=0&t=1408223256

6 Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety – http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/noise_auditory.html

7 http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/noise-making-montrealers-sick-study-shows

8 http://www.admtl.com/en/adm/communities/soundscape/faq

9 http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/noise

10 http://www.icao.int/about-icao/Pages/default.aspx

11 Appendix II to Annex 16 (vol. 1) of the Chicago Convention

12 A type certificate is a "document issued by a State to define the design of an aircraft type and to certify that this design meets the appropriate airworthiness requirements of that State" as defined in the Annex 16 (vol. 1), Part I – Definitions of the Chicago Convention.

13 See Irina G. Ionescu, Aircraft Noise Regulation (LL.M. Thesis, Institute of Air and Space Law, McGill University, 2004) at 33.

14 Referred to as the ICAO Annex 16, Volume 1 Chapter 14, which became effective July 14, 2014

15 See Part V of Annex 16 (vol. 1) to the Chicago Convention

16 This element is addressed through the adoption of the 13 Chapters of the Annex 16 (vol.1) of the Chicago Convention.

17 The term "Member States" refers to the ICAO Contracting States. The complete list is available here: http://www.icao.int/about-icao/Pages/member-states.aspx

18 http://www.icao.int/about-icao/Pages/default.aspx

19 See the respective websites of FAA and Transport Canada at: http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/apl/noise_emissions/airport_aircraft_noise_issues; and http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/standards/aerodromeairnav-standards-noise-menu-923.htm20 RSC 1985, c.A-2

21 SOR/96-433

22 http://www.lop.parl.gc.ca/content/lop/ResearchPublications/2013-08-e.htm

23 CARs 602.106

24 http://www.lop.parl.gc.ca/content/lop/ResearchPublications/2013-08-e.htm

25 http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/standards/aerodromeairnav-standards-noise-menu-923.htm

26 https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/standards/aerodromeairnav-standards-noise-menu-923.htm

27 http://www.lop.parl.gc.ca/content/lop/ResearchPublications/2013-08-e.htm; Those include Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

28 https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/apl/noise_emissions/airport_aircraft_noise_issues/levels/

29 The regulation contained in ICAO Annex 16, Volume 1 Chapter 14 became effective July 14, 2014

30 https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/apl/noise_emissions/airport_aircraft_noise_issues/levels/

31 For example in Canada, the application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court from the Citoyens pour une qualité de vie/Citizens for a Quality of Life against the Aéroports de Montréal was dismissed; The Coalition contre le bruit undertook a class action against the City of Shawinigan that ended by a settlement for $275 000; The City of Longueuil and the Comité antipollution des avions reached an agreement relating to aircraft noise at the St.Hubert airport; In the United States of America, a settlement was reached between the Virginia Beach and Chesapeake property owners and the Federal Government over Navy jet noise during the class action litigation process.

32 See as an example the 2015 Noise Management Report for Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport: https://www.portstoronto.com/portstoronto/media-room/news/portstoronto-releases-2015-noise-management-report.aspx.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Blaney McMurtry LLP
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Blaney McMurtry LLP
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions