Belfast City Airport - Aircraft Noise | Environment | Belfast City Airport

Aircraft Noise Complaints

If you wish to make a complaint about aircraft noise, you can call our dedicated noise hotline on:

+44 (0)2890 935020

Or alternatively, you can register your aircraft noise complaint via our 'Contact Us' section.

Aircraft Noise Management

Noise generated by aircraft arriving and departing from George Best Belfast City Airport (GBBCA) can be detectable over an extended area and is, consequently, an important issue for the local community.  In addition to this, noise from aircraft taxiing and engine ground running may affect those living in the immediate vicinity of GBBCA.

It is our policy to promote the development of airport capacity in harmony with the environment.  We aim to achieve this through the implementation of noise management strategies to limit the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise, and to engage with statutory authorities, elected and community representatives, and other stakeholders in a programme of continuous communication.

                          Aircraft Noise

Since GBBCA began commercial operations in 1983, we have consistently sought to develop and improve the range of management strategies to minimise the impact of aircraft noise on our local community.  Our noise management strategy is shaped by stipulations in our Planning Agreement and other noise management measures.

Stipulations in the Planning Agreement

• Operating hours: flights may only be scheduled to operate between 06:30 hours and 21:30 hours.  Extensions may be granted in exceptional circumstances to facilitate delayed aircraft up to 23:59 hours.

• Movements cap: GBBCA may only operate 48,000 aircraft movements in any 12 month period.

• Flight routings: To maintain a bias in favour of arrivals and departures over Belfast Lough and to use all reasonable endeavours to maximise arrivals and departures over Belfast Lough. However, as aircraft are required to take off and land by flying into the wind, the direction of flights will depend on the prevailing wind conditions.

• Aircraft types: the Airport is only to accept jet aircraft that are at least Chapter 3 certified (‘Chapter 3’ refers to the noise standard laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)) and not accept aircraft that are only ‘marginally’ compliant with the Chapter 3 standard as defined under the Aerodromes (Noise Restrictions) (Rules and Procedures) Regulations 2003. However, the majority of aircraft operating at GBBCA comply with the more stringent ICAO ‘Chapter 4’ noise standard.

• Noise Contours: GBBCA must produce noise contours annually to report the extent of noise impacting upon the local community.  These reports are lodged with the relevant government departments and members of the Airport Forum for scrutiny purposes. Please click here to download a copy of the Noise Contours 2018 Report

• Noise and Track Monitoring System: GBBCA must operate a noise and track monitoring system.

GBBCA has invested approximately £150,000 in a Noise & Track Monitoring System (NTMS).  The purpose of this system is to record actual aircraft noise data and track flight paths for the ongoing assessment of the impact of aircraft noise on the community. 

The NTMS is used when investigating specific queries about aircraft movements.  Noise data obtained from two fixed noise monitors located under the flight path at each end of the runway is also used to produce the annual noise contours. 

• Seats for sale: airlines may offer no more than 2,000,000 seats for sale on flights from the Airport in any 12 month period.

GBBCA have submitted a request to vary the terms of its Planning Agreement to remove the Seats for Sale restriction from the Agreement and replace it with a noise contour control cap and other noise control measures.  This process is ongoing.

Further details can be found on the Department for Infrastructure Planning Portal

We monitor and record data in relation to these stipulations including the number of aircraft movements, flights after 21:30 hours and the number of flights over Belfast Lough and publish this information on our website on a rolling three month basis.

Other Noise Management Measures

• Fining System: GBBCA has in place a penalty system on all flights arriving into or departing from the Airport after 21:30 hours in order to discourage flights beyond this time.  Monies are placed into the Community Fund which is used to support a variety of worthwhile community projects in the Belfast area.

• Noise Abatement Procedures: GBBCA has in force a series of noise abatement procedures for both arriving and departing traffic. These are designed to minimise noise disturbance on the surrounding community while ensuring the safe and efficient management of air traffic at the Airport. These procedures can be summarised as follows:

1. Departures over Belfast Lough
On attaining a height of 500 feet, aircraft taking off over Belfast Lough must execute a left turn to take the aircraft over water.  Only on reaching certain altitudes may aircraft turn south over the North Down coastline (1,500 feet for turboprop aircraft less than 13,000kg, 2,000 feet for turboprop aircraft greater than 13,000kg and 3,000 feet for jet aircraft).

2. Departures over Belfast City
Similarly, aircraft departing over Belfast City must maintain a straight course until reaching the altitudes set out above after which they may execute a turn.

3. Arrivals over Belfast Lough
Aircraft arriving over Belfast Lough are to cross the North Down coast at an altitude not below 2,500 feet before establishing on the final approach track 5 nautical miles from the runway threshold. All arriving aircraft are to descend to the runway threshold at an angle of 3 degrees.

4. Arrivals over Belfast City
Aircraft arriving over Belfast City are to establish on the final approach track no later than 5 nautical miles from the threshold at an altitude of not below 1,500 feet.

All arriving aircraft are to descend to the runway threshold at an angle of 3 degrees.

• Track Monitoring: GBBCA’s track monitoring system allows for the monitoring of all flights compliance with these noise abatement procedures.

• Fixed Electrical Ground Power: to minimise the impact of ground noise, GBBCA has installed Fixed Electrical Ground Power (FEGP) on aircraft stands in front of the terminal which provides aircraft with a silent electrical supply.

• Engine Testing: there are procedures in place surrounding the timing and location of aircraft ground engine running.  All engine ground runs shall be subject to the prior approval of the Airfield Operations Department and the test running of aircraft engines is prohibited between 22:30 hours and 06:00 hours.

Noise Action Plan

GBBCA has a Noise Action Plan in place covering the period 2013-18 in line with the requirements of Directive 2002/49/EC commonly referred to as the Environmental Noise Directive (‘END’). 

This Plan summarises the extent of aircraft noise in the Belfast Agglomeration, measures already in place at GBBCA to prevent and reduce aircraft noise and actions proposed over the five years of the Plan to continue to do so.

A public consultation on a draft version of the Plan took place between 14 June and 9 August 2013.  A detailed review of all consultation responses was undertaken before finalising the Noise Action Plan. This final Plan was approved by the Minister for the Environment in January 2014.

Download the full Noise Action Plan 2013 - 2018

Click here for more information on Environmental Noise Directive Draft Noise Action Plan 2019-2024 and September 2018 – Public Consultation.