Noise Curfews & Abatement – Planning Considerations
One of the biggest show stoppers out there, in terms of operating restrictions, is airport and noise curfews. It’s always important to be aware of all noise curfews, limitations and noise abatement procedures at your destination airports around the world. Repercussions for violating curfews and noise regulations can range from demands for explanations to monetary penalties and the prospect of being banned from certain airports.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Noise curfews
Several airports in Europe and around the world have noise-based operating curfews. For example, at Frankfurt (EDDF) Stage 3 aircraft may operate from 0600-2200 local, but Stage 4 rated aircraft enjoy extended 0500-2300 local operating hours. Adelaide (YPAD) has noise curfews in effect 2300-0600 local but certain general aviation (GA) aircraft are exempt based on a make/model list kept by airport authorities. Meanwhile, Sydney (YSSY) has night operating curfews in effect unless your aircraft is Stage 3 or above and takeoff weight from last point of departure is no more than 34,000 kg. (approximately 75,000 lbs.). Likewise, aircraft will not be permitted to depart during the night curfew unless the aircraft weight is no more than 34,000 kg. (approximately 75,000lbs.).
2. Noise violation penalties
Luton (EGGW) is very good at tracking and fining operators who violate arrival/departure tracks and bust noise limitations. Allowable noise levels are currently 94 dB between 0700-2300 local and 82 dB between 2300-0700 local. If you violate a noise level by no more than 3 dB you’ll be fined 100 £ for the first offence and 200 £ for subsequent noise violations. However, if you’re tracked at more than 5 dB over the allowable limit, minimum fines start at 500 £. EGGW is particularly vigilant in enforcing noise limits and they’ll send you an email showing your radar track and noise levels. Repercussions can range and the aircraft can banned from operating to the airport.
3. Rotterdam noise options
Rotterdam (EHRD) normally operates Monday-Friday 0600-2300 local and Saturday-Sunday 0600-2200 local, but airport overtime is possible with prior arrangements and a service fee. This is one of the few airports in Europe available for Stage 2 operations. Stage 2 operators, however, must have prior approval and may only operate 0800-1800 local.
4. APU restrictions
Be aware of auxiliary power unit (APU) operating restrictions at various airports worldwide. This can be a particular issue for certain makes/models of aircraft that need to run APUs for 45 minutes or so after landing/before takeoff, to avoid avionics system resets when switching from APU to ground power unit (GPU). Some airports are stricter than others in limiting APU use, with typical restrictions in Europe being about 30 minutes. Nice (LFMN) has an APU limit of 10 minutes on arrival/departure but this may be extended with prior arrangement. However, when operating at LFMN between 2300-0600 local, APUs may only be run at remote parking stands and not on the main ramp.
5. Power push back limitations
At some locations, including Hong Kong (VHHH) and the compact parking area at Singapore Seletar (WSSL), power push back and/or departing from parking stands under the aircraft’s own power is not permitted. At Naples (LIRN) operators must use tow bars for push back as the airport does not permitted push backs under aircraft power. Push back and taxi from parking stands using its own power is also restricted at certain Caribbean and South America airports.
6. Stage 4 requirements
Farnborough (EGLF) became a Stage 4 only airfield a few years ago but restrictions are based more on aircraft noise data than Stage 4 certification. Stage 3 aircraft, operating within Stage 4 noise limits, are permitted to operate into EGLF. Airport authorities look at your specific dB levels and may allow you in even though you’re not Stage 4 certified. It’s always recommended to check noise requirements for this airport prior to any travel.
7. Stage 2 limitations
While Stage 2 restrictions are rare in Africa, much of South America, the Middle East and China, they can present significant operating restrictions in Japan, Europe and elsewhere. Only a few airports in Europe allow Stage 2 operation these days. For example, at Basel (LFSB) you may only land Stage 2 equipment when arriving for aircraft maintenance, with pre-arrangement. Lyon (LFLY) still permits Stage 2, although with restrictions. Stage 2 at LFLY is allowed 0600-2200 local. On the other hand, Stage 3 and 4 operations at this location are permitted 24/7 but thrust reverser use is banned during night hours.
8. Noise exemptions
If you’re a Stage 2 operator, or know you’ll need to run your APU longer than normally permitted, it’s important to work with your 3rd-party provider to verify if noise curfews/restrictions at your destination may be an issue. In most cases, with pre-planning and sufficient lead time, we find ways to make the operation work. For example, if you’re operating to LFMN during high season it’s usually possible to arrange extended APU use with one to two weeks prior notice.
9. Schedule revisions
Be aware that if you revise your schedule this could put you into an airport curfew or noise restricted period. Therefore, we recommend verifying any schedule revision with your 3rd-party provider before making schedule change commitments to your principal. We had an operator recently who had a one hour delay going into to Tel Aviv (LLBG) and this put them over curfew time. At LLBG there are different curfews for summer and winter, with summer operating curfews being the most stringent.
Many locations around the world require noise certificates with landing permit requests. While some airports allow submission of generic noise documentation for your type/model of aircraft, others including Malta (LMML), want to see specific noise documentation from the aircraft manual. Stage 2 aircraft hush- kitted to Stage 3 are usually not an issue so long as proper noise level documentation is provided in advance.
11. Noise infractions
If an operator deviates from prescribed arrival/departure routings, is below altitude at certain waypoints or operates with higher than permitted dBs at locations such as Zurich (LSZH), an email will be received showing the deviation and asking for a detailed response. The same is true at EGGW, VHHH and certain other international locations. If acceptable reasons are provided for the deviation, penalties will not normally be assessed for first-time violations. The problems and escalating fines and/or operating restrictions usually surface in cases of repeat offenders using the same or similar excuses.
Looking to the future we do not anticipate airports around the world going to the noise monitoring model of EGGW. The noise benchmark was set years ago with Stage 3 and we’re now moving into Stage 4. Modern GA aircraft are getting to the point where noise is becoming less and less of an issue. Additional allowances, in terms of longer operating hours, are now often possible at certain airports for quieter aircraft with the latest technology engines.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.