The importance of collaborative dialogue in the aircraft noise debate: Examples of flightpath changes at UK airports

Aircraft noise remains one of the most socially contentious aspects of air transport operations and the one that is most likely to motivate local community opposition to airport expansion and development. Identifying the complex and often interlocking socio-political and acoustic factors that underpin this opposition represents a key management challenge for airports. Learning how to disseminate information to affected groups about current and future noise exposure levels in a way that is equally understandable and comprehensive and empowering communities to work with airport operators and aviation regulators to refine possible noise mitigation options are both prerequisites for achieving more socio-environmentally equitable and sustainable aviation. Drawing on two examples of flightpath reorganisation at UK airports, this paper shows that establishing and maintaining effective collaborative dialogue between airports, airlines, aviation regulators and local communities will help overcome some of the communication breakdowns that have strained some airport-community relations in the past. By examining the benefits, challenges, and opportunities associated with this approach, the paper offers a new framework for collaborative working and makes recommendations for improved practice.