Noise burden

People from communities around Luton Airport are reporting an increased perception of noise from flights. There are a number of reasons for this, as we summarise using data from the Airport’s own publications.

More passengers, heavier aircraft, more noise
The Airport’s Annual Monitoring Reports show that passenger numbers increased by 17% between 2014 and 2015, whereas numbers of flights only increased by 12%. This means that the planes must be getting fuller and/or larger – hence heavier and noisier.

This growth has continued during 2016, and at this rate Luton Airport could reach its limit of 18 million passengers per year by 2020, rather than by 2028 as predicted.



Noisier flights
Based on data published by Luton Airport, it is clear that the noise of individual flights is shifting from the lower noise bands to the higher noise bands – particularly at night. The graphs below show the percentage of departures in each noise band: the proportions in the noisier grey and light orange bands are increasing over time.



Noisier nights
One of the most disturbing facts is that the mix of aircraft is noisiest at night. These pie charts show that 25% of aircraft were measured at 76 decibels or louder at night, and only 19% during the day.


Noisier more of the time
Flight arrivals and departures at Luton Airport are now spread over more of the day than before, and the first departures leave at around 05:30 instead of 06:00. Arrivals carry on during the late evening, making it difficult for children and adults to get to sleep.

Higher concentration of tracks
The introduction of the RNAV navigation system has meant that aircraft tracks are now more consistent on the route between Hemel Hempstead and St Albans to the south, and Redbourn and Harpenden to the north. Unfortunately many people are finding that this, coupled with all the factors above, makes the noise burden even worse.

To complain about aircraft noise in general, send an email to

To identify a particular flight, use the replay capability Luton Airport Travis system to find the flight, and then click the complaint button in the toolbar to fill in a complaint form about it. Travis can be accessed at this link >>