Sources of Aviation Noise


Community noise is a growing problem in our fast-paced and increasingly congested world. Noise sources, especially in urban regions, are closer than ever to residential areas. Excessive amounts of noise can cause annoyance and disturbance to people's daily lives.


There are four main sources of community noise:

  • Industry
  • Transportation
  • Construction
  • Domestic and leisure activities
Aerial Photo of a City

Industry Noise

Industry noise is generated by many different kinds of machines. These machines can produce low-pitched noise, high-pitched noise or broadband noise (noise composed of many different pitches). Noise can be made by fast-moving air from fans and steam pressure relief valves. It can also be made by mechanical impacts such as stamping, riveting and road breaking.

Industry noise is generated by machines at factories, heat pumps and ventilation systems on rooftops, and other machines found around the community. Residents near these machines can be affected by the noise they produce. To reduce the impact on nearby residents, it is helpful to quiet these machines at the source, restrict their operation times, and build enclosures to better contain the noise.

Transportation Noise

Transportation noise is made by road, rail, and air traffic. It is the most common form of community noise.

  • Road traffic noise is caused by automobile engines, tire-road interactions, and interactions between the automobile and surrounding air. Fast-traveling, large, heavy vehicles often produce louder noise.
  • Although trains can produce large amounts of noise, railway noise affects less people than road or air traffic noise, mostly affecting people in cities who live very close to railroad tracks. It is affected by the types of train engines used, a train's speed, and the track type and condition.
  • Air traffic can produce high intensity noise and affect many people near airports. The extent of the noise is a product of the types of aircraft flown, the number of flights, and the flight paths. Similar to road traffic, larger and heavier aircraft can produce more noise. However some lighter, smaller aircraft are exceptions to this rule.

Construction Noise

Construction machinery such as cranes and cement mixers, as well as work processes such as welding and hammering, all produce noise that can affect a community. Machinery is rarely well silenced and is often poorly maintained. Services such as garbage disposal and street cleaning may also produce noise at sensitive hours of the day.

Domestic Noise and Noise from Leisure Activities

Domestic noise can be produced by mechanical devices such as heat pumps and ventilation systems or by activities performed by household members. Noise from household activities such as vacuuming, lawn mowing and listening to music can be disturbing to neighbors. Such activities are even more problematic in multifamily dwellings.

Leisure activities such as motor racing, water skiing and snowmobiling can also produce disruptive noise. Often these activities are done in normally quiet areas, drastically increasing sound levels.

These different sources of community noise all contribute to disturbance of community members. However, the annoyance they cause may be best measured in different ways, because of the differing nature of their sounds. They may also benefit from different noise reduction techniques.


"1.7.4 Major noise sources." New South Wales Environment Protection Authority. NSW Department of Environment and Conservation. 10 November 2006.

"2. Noise sources and their measurement." Guidelines for Community Noise. World Health Organization. 9 November 2006.

Glossary Words:

Broadband noise, helicopter, sound level

For definitions of words used in this section go to the NoiseQuest Glossary of Terms.