New survey on people’s experiences of aviation noise during lockdown


The UK’s Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) has published a snapshot of people’s experiences of aviation noise during lockdown.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the aviation industry, with huge numbers of aircraft grounded resulting in much quieter skies for those living near airports. With fewer aircraft flying, this unique situation presented an opportunity to gather people’s views on aviation noise and see how their attitudes might change as the aviation industry seeks to recover.

ICCAN, an advisory body that provides independent, impartial advice to government, regulators and the aviation industry, commissioned market research company Ipsos MORI to conduct an independent survey of people living near five airports in the UK: Heathrow, Manchester, Gatwick, East Midlands and Edinburgh. The survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI between 18 June and 13 July 2020 among a representative  sample of 2,006 people.

Nearly everyone interviewed in the survey (92%) said that before the lockdown they could hear aeroplane noise where they live, and two-thirds (66%) were bothered by it. When asked about their experiences of aviation noise during the period of lockdown in June and July, the number who were bothered by aviation noise fell to just under a third (28%).

While nearly two-fifths of people interviewed (38%) said that they would mind if aircraft noise returned to pre-lockdown levels, just under half (48%) indicated that they would not.

Head Commissioner of ICCAN, Rob Light, said:

“This survey presents an important snapshot of how people felt about aviation noise during lockdown, when the skies were undoubtedly the quietest they had been for a generation.

“As the UK’s independent noise body, ICCAN wanted to capture a picture of how people felt about the skies this summer, and we want to repeat the survey to see how people’s experiences change as aircraft return and more noise is generated.

“Tracking people’s views about the impact of noise on them will be crucial in building a sustainable recovery, where noise and its effects are at the heart of decisions about aviation.”

ICCAN is also currently developing a new, more general survey of people’s attitudes to aviation noise to better understand how aviation noise impacts on annoyance and health.

Notes to editors:

  • The Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) was established by the Government in January 2019 to act as the credible and impartial voice on all matters relating to civil aviation noise and how it affects communities.
  • ICCAN published a note to accompany the survey, available to view here.
  • Download the Ipsos survey, ‘Aviation noise during lockdown’ here
  • ICCAN’s wider work includes producing guidance and advice for industry and regulators on the planning system, insulation schemes and airport operations.

For further information, contact: Rupert Basham, ICCAN Media & Engagement Lead,, 07971 110350

The Independent Commission on Civil Aviation noise ceased operating on 30 September 2021.

You can read the Government’s statement on ICCAN’s closure and Head Commissioner Rob Light’s letter to the Minister to learn more.

Any further questions about ICCAN’s work or aviation noise should be directed to the Department for Transport.