Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Winter 2007 - page 4

Aircraft noise

Aircraft noise is the most wide-spread type of noise, reaching even the most remote places on this planet, and is growing in leaps and bounds along with the human population, its activities and demands world-wide. In Canada, control over aircraft noise rests largely with the federal government, who has jurisdiction over fresh and salt water, as well as air space. Unfortunately, the prevailing attitude there appears to be "the more, the better," with very few exceptions. Consequently, there is preciously little pressure on the industry to reduce that noise with better planning and aircraft design.

While most large aircraft at least adhere to certain flight-paths between major airports, small aircraft and helicopters fly almost anywhere. Proliferation of the latter category in many urban areas has literally made them a ubiquitous acoustical pest.


In recreation and wilderness areas they ever more frequently shatter the primeval natural quiet, an indispensable experience lost to satiate the whims of relatively few.

The Right to Quiet Society has tried on many occasions to change that, but lacks the means to have enough clout. However, we continue to try and urge everyone with a concern for the quality of our soundscape to speak out.

One success was that a proposed air-show to be held on Vancouver's north-west side was cancelled, likely due to strong opposition from enough concerned residents. In other matters we still need to work hard to possibly succeed. Following is a copy of a letter we sent the federal minister of transport last fall, plus the response we received from the minister's special assistant:

To: The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport,
Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa.

Dear Mr. Cannon,

Traffic of small aircraft, particularly float-planes and helicopters,
has dramatically increased in the Lower Mainland (i.e. Greater Vancouver and the lower Fraser Valley), the Sunshine Coast and the south-east side of Vancouver Island in recent years. Let me refer to this area as the Georgia Straight Rim (GSR). There are ever more residents affected by this rapidly growing activity, generating intolerable levels of noise. It is also often in violation of corresponding municipal noise bylaws.

Vancouver and Victoria airports expanded considerably during the past 15 years. YVR (Vancouver) wants to expand still further with yet another runway. Other secondary airports within the GSR have ambitious plans to expand as well, all of which will only add to the already existing mayhem. With the "hubs," of course, the "spoke"-traffic will grow as well. The Right to Quiet Society has received and is receiving numerous inquiries about this problem by concerned and adversely affected residents.

One major part of this problem is the fact that the aircraft in question fly ever more frequently far too low over residential areas. Another important factor is the lack of implementation of modern technology in propeller design and engine muffling, as well as other aerodynamic improvements in wing and body design. Still other significantly mitigating measures would be to avoid residential areas where aircraft could very well fly over large enough bodies of sea-water. And, of course, the strict adherence by all pilots to all requirements needs to be rigorously monitored and enforced. It is precisely there where we see a grave and growing lack.

Very unfortunately, NavCanada, commissioned by Transport Canada, establishes or changes flight-paths with no proper public consultation. As far as we know, there are no environmental impact studies done, no noise contours produced that would show what noise levels will occur in what places, in order to allow for meaningful planning on the ground prior to routing noisy aircraft over it. In our opinion, NavCanada has too much discretion, and Transport Canada does not have appropriate checks and control mechanisms in place to protect the residents from this rather unhealthy development.

As for the cost involved to introduce the requirements alluded to above, we would argue that failing to do so will also bring on tremendous costs in terms of healthcare and possible safety risks. We urge you to seriously consider this matter and make the investment in truly "urban-friendly" noise reduction now, to avoid enormous expenses later.

I would very much appreciate to hear/read about your thoughts on this
issue and look forward to your reply.


Hans Schmid
Right to Quiet Society

Please see page 5 for reply

Entire contents © 2006 Right to Quiet Society. Cartoon © 1996 Right to Quiet Society
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