Noisy Noise Protesters

Airports offering their customers 24/7/365 operating hours are scarce in the German aviation landscape. Most are closed between late evening and early morning, among them Frankfurt,
Munich, Hamburg, Berlin and Dusseldorf, in contrast to a handful of others such as Leipzig, Cologne, Hanover or Nuremberg. Now a tiny, technically well-equipped lobby opposing aviation noise
emissions fight an increasingly fierce battle to further reduce the already limited operating times.

Courtesy n-tv
Courtesy n-tv

Is it the aging society, increased need for rest, rising environmental awareness or mounting selfishness? Whatever the reasons might be, probably a mélange of these and other factors: Complaints
about aviation noise have dramatically increased in Germany in recent times, despite a fast-growing fleet of modern, energy-efficient, and quieter aircraft. This is proven by data stemming from
airports, forwarded to the German Environment Agency, a governmental body.

Small but loud group
The finding is stunning, because the absolute number of people bemoaning being affected by aircraft noise pollution has not significantly changed during the last decade, standing at 0.8 million
according to long-term trials. In comparison, 8.7 million inhabitants are blaming street noise for being the main source of permanent stress, accounting for about 10 percent of the country’s
population, and 6.4 million people suffer in their own words predominantly from noise pollution caused by cargo and passenger trains, exceeding 54 decibels. 
In essence, this means that only one out of 19 objectors identified aviation noise emissions as the most disturbing reason.  

Mass protests …
Confronted with these rather general findings the German Environment Agency looked closer into the figures particularly the Frankfurt data. The result: Exactly 5,593,806 complaints were submitted
to operator Fraport or the responsible noise abatement officer during the last five years by a total of 2,339 people, with a fast-growing tendency of filing protests lately.
That’s an extremely high number of grievances by a rather limited number of people.

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… translate into campaigns of a few
However, what’s really striking is the fact that in the case of Rhine-Main Airport only three individuals were identified as being the source for three quarters off all complaints.
Their method: They installed high-performance microphones atop their roofs, attached to antennas, monitoring the noise emission of every single flight, confirms the German Aviation
Association.
In case a threshold value is exceeded and be it for only a second, they flood airport operator Fraport, Air Traffic Control or the responsible noise abatement officer with dozens of identical,
pre-worded emails. This all grows to an avalanche within a short period of time after fellow protesters have been informed via Facebook or Twitter from their noise watchdogs about cargo or
passenger aircraft violating night flight regulations or noise restrictions.
Without a doubt a disputable doing by a tiny group aimed at creating the public impression that aviation noise affects millions, having grown to becoming one of the major evils of our time.
At first glance, it is very surprising that this advance has never been a big issue in local papers. Instead, aviation noise and its indisputably harmful effects is a constant topic filling the
pages of the press, this way indirectly supporting the protests of a small lobby of egomaniacs.

Only bad news is good news
Asked by CargoForwarder Global why anti-noise protests are frequently producing headlines, an editor admitted shortly that articles criticizing aviation noise help to increase the circulation of
his paper. At least an honest statement!
Conversely, aviation as a job machine enables careers, vocational qualification and monthly income affecting several hundred thousands earning their money in aviation. This other side of the
coin, however, is seldom positively acknowledged by politicians, media or the broader society.
Therefore, the field is left to the well-organized semi-professional nay-sayers and anti-noise campaigners who have managed to gain the opinion leadership fighting for tighter curfews and even
lower noise levels, despite the enormous efforts made by Airbus, Boeing and the turbine producers to reduce the noise emissions in aviation further.
So probably it’s not the aging society or the people’s increasing environmental awareness causing a growing opposition to aircraft noise. A more plausible explanation is that a tiny lobby makes a
lot of fuss and drum-beating driven by selfish motives.

Heiner Siegmund

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Source: Cargoforwarder

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