Noise minimisation measures

Legislation on the limitation of noisy aircraft

    The rules on operating restrictions at airports for certain aircraft, due to noise, are imposed by European regulations. Since 2002 with Directive 2002/30, which was transposed into our national legislation by Royal Decree 1257/2003 and replaced by Regulation 598/2014, guidelines for the management of noise at airports were established for three important reasons:
    Firstly, because of the existence of international indications from ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) on how to manage the noise problem at airports, through an international framework called EQUILIBRATED FOCUS
    Secondly, in order to avoid the risks to aviation associated with the acoustic impact, since the environmental impact on the airport environment is likely to reduce the capacity of airports, it was therefore necessary to balance the development of air transport, which is strategic in many cases, with respect to the environment
    And thirdly, in order to establish in a homogeneous manner in all Member States, effective coordination and information with stakeholders, as well as with the European Commission itself, which may request a review of the procedure followed.
    What are noise-related operating restrictions?
    Operating restrictions are those measures that limit the access of certain aircraft to an airport or reduce the operational capacity of the airport, including restrictions to prohibit the operation of marginally compliant aircraft at specific airports, as well as partial operating restrictions that apply, for example, during a given day time or only for certain runways at the airport. Marginally compliant aircraft are the noisiest aircraft within which they are permitted on Community territory.
     Where are
    there operating noise restrictions?

    In Spain, operating restrictions were approved in accordance with Directive 2002/30 and Royal Decree 1257/2003 which transposed that directive for two airports:
    Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas, MAD: By Resolution of 30 August 2006 of the Directorate-General for Civil Aviation introducing operating restrictions at Madrid-Barajas Airport; 
    Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat, BCN: By Resolution of 31 May 2011 of the State Aviation Safety Agency introducing operating restrictions at Barcelona’s El Prat airport.
    These Resolutions prohibit commercial operations with such aircraft at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport since September 2012 and at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat airport since September 2017 unless the corresponding exemption granted by the State Aviation Safety Agency is available.

Noise exemptions

    For the reasons set out in Articles 7 and 8 of Royal Decree 1257/2003, exemptions may be granted in certain cases for operations with marginally compliant aircraft at Madrid and Barcelona airports. To do so, it will be necessary to submit, prior to the flight, a request for exemption to operate marginally compliant aircraft in a reasoned manner to the Aircraft Safety Directorate of the State Aviation Safety Agency, without prejudice to any other permits or authorisations necessary to carry out the operation.

Minimisation measures

    Operating restrictions are the last measure to be put in place when the remaining available measures, following the ICAO Balanced Approach, have not been sufficient to achieve the noise reduction targets at a particular airport. 
    The four areas of action of noise reduction measures, which manufacturers, companies and airport managers carry out for noise reduction, always with a personalised approach to each airport and its casuistics, according to ICAO’s Balanced Approach, are:
    Noise reduction at origin à For example with measures of the type:

    • Fleet Improvement
    • Use of the latest technology available
    • Incentive to use quieter aircraft

    Management of the territory à Measures can be carried out such as: 

    • Planning Reports and Acoustic Servidumbres Establishments
    • Sound insulation plans
    • Information and cooperation measures with the localities concerned

    Operational procedures à There are a variety of measures specifically designed for each airport, such as: 

    • Use of preferred runways or configuration (provided they do not affect operational capacity)
    • Displaced thresholds
    • Design and optimisation of trajectories 
    • Operational procedures for taking-off noise depletion
    • Operational procedures for landing noise depletion (limitations in approach and landing operations, limitation of reversal power on night landings, continuous descent manoeuvres (CDA)). 
    • Operational procedures for noise depletion of ground operations (limitations to the use of the auxiliary power unit (APU) and engine testing). 
    • Etc.

    And if the above are insufficient, Operational Restrictions, consisting, to date, of marginally compliant aircraft.


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