Noise & Environment Airplane Logo

Noise Issues Hotline:
Tel: 01865 290 664
(will default to answer phone if busy)
Fax: 01865 290 605
e-mail: or online form

Oxford Airport has a Noise Amelioration Scheme (NAS) (PDF) published and available to local parish councils and Oxford Airport operators. A copy is always held at the airport operations desk. The UK Government’s most recent conclusions with respect to noise from civil aircraft were published in December 2003 and can be downloaded here. The NAS clearly identifies preferred entry and exit routings avoiding local towns and villages wherever safe and practical. Schemes exist for both fixed wing and helicopter operations. The NAS defines Noise Abatement Procedures in detail. Helicopter approach and departure routings can be viewed here.

UK CAA paper on Noise Consideration at General Aviation Aerodromes (PDF).

In partnership with our local authority, Cherwell District Council, we have also reached agreement at the start of 2006 for long term commitments on aircraft noise and nuisance mitigation measures at Oxford Airport.  This agreement relates to planning applications made recently and those envisaged for the future for infrastructure changes to update and modernise the airport.

The agreement in essence places controls and measures on the following:

  • Hours of Operation – limits on night time activity between midnight and 06:00 hrs each day.  Also a cap on such movements to no more than 500 per annum.
  • Flight Training Circuits – limits on such training circuits after 23:00 hrs and before 07:00 hrs each day.
  • Total Annual Movements – No more than 160,000 per annum of which no more than 500 can be Stage II or noisier jets and no more than 2000 should be 50 tonne or heavier jets.
  • Static Testing of Jet Engines – restricted to a specified location on the airfield and limited to no more than 6 hours weekdays and 3 hours at weekends.  No such activity should take place before 07:00 hrs or after 19:00 hrs on any day.

Best practices are recommended for take-off and landing profiles to reduce the noise footprint. The Air Navigation Order, Rule 5, prohibits flight within 500ft of any person, vehicle or structure except when taking off or landing in accordance with normal aviation practices. At Oxford all departing fixed wing aircraft climb straight ahead to 750ft above ground level before making their departure turn and most will do so under maximum power. Most aircraft use 60% - 70% of maximum power for the approach and landing, thereby causing less noise than on departure.

The safety of aircraft operations are paramount at all times and always takes precedence over any other considerations.

Historically, Oxford’s traffic has predominantly been training activity utilising light piston aircraft. Much of the time these aircraft join a circuit flying around the airfield in a designated pattern.

Oxford has one of the highest circuit heights of any airfield in the country. Most airfields specify a circuit height of 800ft to 1000ft, but at Oxford fixed wing aircraft fly at 1,200ft. Download Oxford’s circuits here.

Daily movements (a landing or take-off) can vary considerably dependant on seasonal activity and weather conditions. Activity is always greater in the summer months. It is perhaps worth highlighting that Oxford has in the recent past seen over 900 movements in just a 2 hour period for one Silverstone Grand Prix weekend, over 1,100 movements in one day and over 4,500 movements in a week. Even by international standards, that is an exceptional level of activity. The disparity between one day and the next can be vast.

On weekdays during the summer, the airport can see up to 600+ movements a day, but in contrast to most general aviation (GA) airports, Oxford can be much quieter at the weekends. Only in exceptional circumstances are operations permitted before 06:00 hrs and after midnight, although medevac (air ambulance), emergency or humanitarian operations are allowed at any time – only 500 such movements a year are permitted during the night. The airport can operate however from 06:00hrs to midnight if demand exists.

Annually, the airport has in the past seen around 230,000 movements a year, indeed it once had the busiest runway in the world, though in recent decades this had reduced to typically 150,000 movements annually. Recent changes to flying school practices have reduced this further such that we saw in 2007 the lowest level of activity on record, a little over 50,000 movements and just 32% of activity levels 10 years ago. Flying school traffic has reduced from 84% of total movements in 1998 to just 36% in 2007. Whilst Oxford remains one of Europe’s foremost centres for professional pilot training, increased used of ground-based flight simulators has reduced the Oxford training fleet from some 75 aircraft to just 14 based aircraft in 2007 with a corresponding decrease in aviation-related emissions.

The handful of jet and turboprop movements each day (around 7% of movements in 2007) have a minimal perceived impact as these aircraft tend to fly straight in - or straight out, whereby engine noise is only heard for typically 30-40 seconds before being virtually inaudible. Most visiting and resident modern jets are ICAO Annex 16, Stage 3 compliant. Rarely does Oxford ever see Stage 2 jets as these become ever more scarce in Europe. Modern turbine business aircraft are among the cleanest and quietest aeroplanes operating today. This fact along with the application of quiet flying techniques to reduce their noise footprint (profile) around airports, make business aircraft good neighbours in the local community. Many of the latest turboprop and jet types are in fact quieter on take-off than the pilot training school twin piston-engined Piper Senecas. The new generation Eclipse VLJ (very light jet) has a certificated noise level of just 54.9 Est. dBA on take-off which is below the ICAO Stage 4 standard.

The facts are that a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) which emits typically 90dBa at 5 metres is both noisier and dirtier than a ‘typical’ business jet which will emit around 65dBa at 450 metres (the periphery of the airfield) with far fewer movements per hour. Business jet aircraft are quieter than larger ‘commercial’ jet types and contribute less than 2% of overall aviation emissions and so a few hundredths of 1% of overall emissions. All the UK’s general aviation flying (any non-airline or non-military activity) produces fewer emissions in a whole year than just three hours of central London traffic.

We would ask that residents differentiate between military traffic that might be associated with Brize Norton, Chalgrove or Benson over which we have no control. Neither Oxfordshire’s Police or Air Ambulance helicopters are based at Kidlington and any low flying in the region of these aircraft will be for operational emergencies or crime prevention measures having departed from elsewhere in the county. Occasionally such helicopters do come to Kidlington for training or for test flights following maintenance inputs.

With such close proximity to the Brize Norton approach, much of the military activity seen flying to the north of Oxford is associated with this military airport.  Complaints about disturbance from aircraft or helicopters operating from, or in the vicinity of, RAF Brize Norton may be referred to the Station's Media and Communications Staff:

Tel No's: 01993 896342 or 01993 897779
e-mail: or

Complaints about military low flying activities not connected to RAF Brize Norton may be made direct to the Ministry of Defence, by calling:

Tel No: 0207 218 6020 or by
e-mail to

For further information on military low flying visit

There is also activity in the area frequently originating from, or destined for local airstrips close by such as Enstone, Oaklands Farm, Shotteswell, Edghill (Shennington), Hinton-in-the-Hedges, Turweston, Finmere, Bicester, Weston on the Green, Oakley, Aylesbury, Chiltern Park, Drayton St. Leonard, Little Rissington and other small private strips.

Noise and Environment Initiatives

Oxford Airport through its partner, CSE Aviation has encouraged the use of available technologies to reduce aircraft noise and enhance fuel efficiency.

With this proactive initiative, we offer a number of engine and propeller upgrades and modifications at discounted costs including;

  • Exhaust silencer/muffler modifications and retrofits on a number of light piston aircraft which noticeably reduce the decibel levels of noise emissions from these aircraft. See Leise and ‘Light Aircraft Noise Reduction’ for further details.
  • Propeller retrofits are offered from manufacturers such as Hartzell, Raisbeck and McCauley, in most cases changing from 3 blade to 4 or 5 blade alternatives. In some instances blade tip speeds are reduced which in turn lowers the noise levels and noise footprint. Available mainly for twin engined piston and turboprop aircraft.
  • Diesel/jet fuel (reciprocating piston) engine retrofits are now available for the most common Cessna and Piper aircraft types reducing fuel consumption by typically 30% or more. CSE Aviation at Oxford is one of very few engine dealers in the world for the two leading pioneers in this emerging technology, France’s SMA and Germany’s Theilert.
  • Airframe modifications such as wing tip mods for improving fuel efficiency are available for several models of piston aircraft, jets and turboprops.

So far as the airport property is concerned, many steps have been taken in recent years to enhance the efficiency of many of the older 1940s buildings including both hangars and offices. Heating systems have been automated with sensors in hangars whilst older buildings are better insulated with double glazed windows whenever refurbishment takes place.

Some 800+ people work on the airfield site at any time in the fields of engineering, training and aircraft operations, making Oxford one of the primary general (GA) and business (Biz Av) aviation centres in the UK.

On a nation-wide basis, the UK’s aviation industry including airlines, manufacturers, airports and air navigation service providers have collectively set out their vision and strategy for mitigating emissions and enhancing sustainability through to 2020.  The strategy document entitled ‘Sustainable Aviation’ sets out commitments and targets for the UK industry and is the first national sustainability strategy ever produced for the aviation industry.   Further details can be found at

The UK government’s own strategy for aviation for the next thirty years in the UK was set out in the 2003 Air Transport White Paper.  A full breakdown of the Government’s policy framework on aviation and airport development can be found at the DfT’s website here.

Of relevance specifically to Oxford Airport, the White Paper made the following conclusions:

  • Current and anticipated capacity demands in the South East in particular are such that it is imperative that established runway capacity at regional airfields is protected and utilised effectively.
  • Wherever possible, the huge demand for capacity around ‘London’ hubs should be supplemented by better use of regional airfields.
  • General Aviation (GA) and Business Aviation airfields were cited as being of significant importance to satisfy the demand for this sector of the industry as these operators continue to be driven away from the primary commercial hubs.
  • General and Business Aviation airfields were an essential part of the UK’s aviation infrastructure, providing for the needs of professional pilot training, a raft of ancillary airborne services such as medevac, survey, research and emergency operations along with providing access to both private and business aircraft which encourages local development, employment and inward investment.

For any concerns on noise issues, please complete online form, or ring 01865 290 664 which will be answered by Operations personnel. If this cannot be answered in person, the call will be transferred to an answer machine from which follow up action can be taken. All complaints are registered. Alternatively comments can be faxed to 01865 290 605 or letter’s written to us for the attention of the Airport Manager.

All complaints are logged by the airport and summaries of such complaints are presented at four monthly airport consultative committee meetings, minutes of which are lodged with the local authority, along with more detailed, specific information on request.

This information, as placed in the public domain, along with any directly received correspondence from home owners to their local authority, may be disclosed upon requests associated with property searches when marketing the property in the future, either through established Standard Enquiries (CON29) of Local Authorities, or through the preparation of HIPs (Home Information Packs), or through any non-standard enquiries during the conveyance process.

Noise Comparison of Oxford’s Aircraft

Helicopter Pilot’s Code of Conduct

Airport Planning Matters

EU Emissions Trading Scheme – Aviation

General Aviation Carbon Offset SchemeCommercial Flight Carbon Offsets

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