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Noise Complaints

The Gloucestershire Airport team works hard to minimise disturbance caused to local residents.

Gloucestershire Airport is the UK’s busiest general aviation airport, handling between 70 – 90,000 flights per year.

We work hard to minimise disturbance our operations can cause to local residents. Our neighbourhood protection policies include: 

  • Strict noise abatement procedures which we regularly remind our home-based operators to follow.
  • We offer incentives (in the form of discounts) for operators to fit silencers to their aircraft.
  • We operate a ‘preferential runway’ scheme when conditions allow to minimise noise nuisance.
  • Off-airfield noise monitoring takes place at various locations around the airfield.
  • We have produced Noise Contour maps in accordance with Government requirements.
  • Briefing sheets for visiting pilots, detailing our noise abatement procedures.

Please read the FAQs below regarding our Noise Abatement procedures.

If you wish to complain about operational noise or other disturbance issues, we operate a formal complaints procedure. You may make a complaint by:

Please ensure that in the message you include Name, Postcode, and information relating to the aircraft; Registration, if visible, otherwise include information on aircraft markings, colouring, type i.e. Jet, Prop, Helicopter.

All complaints received are recorded in the complaints database. If a response is requested, details are passed to the senior management team, who will contact you at the earliest opportunity.

What else happens to my complaint?

At the time of your complaint, we will try to identify the aircraft involved by contacting air traffic control. It helps if you can be as accurate as possible in your description of the aircraft colour, markings, time of the incident and, if possible, the registration letters. We will then advise the aircraft operator of your complaint and request feedback from them.

All complaints are maintained in a database. The records are analysed and the results used to:

  • Identify overall trends and investigate ways of mitigating problems by changing operational procedures.
  • Inform the Airport Consultative Committee of complaints received since the last meeting.
  • Produce annual statistics on noise.


The normal operating hours (Local Time) at Gloucestershire Airport are as follows:

Summer: Monday to Friday 0830 1930; Sat & Sun 0900 1930

Winter: Monday to Friday 0830 1930; Sat & Sun 0900 1800

Sometimes, flights are accepted outside these hours, subject to the availability of Air Traffic Control (ATC) and Airport Fire Service staff, and subject to a surcharge. The majority of these flights take place within 2 hours of normal opening or closing time. This has been the pattern of operating hours for more than 35 years.

Emergency, Police and Air Ambulance-related operations are excluded from any limitation. They have special dispensation for out of hours flights, including at night. This can be for operational reasons as well as pilot and crew training along with airframe maintenance flights.

Some homebased private aircraft are also permitted to operate when the airport is closed. Private operators must apply for approval to join the scheme, providing details of their Public Liability Insurance. These flights are only permitted during daylight hours (i.e. after sunrise and before sunset), subject to specified weather conditions and must be notified in advance to ATC. Repeat circuit flying is not permitted. No commercial or training flights are permitted to operate when the airport is closed.

In certain circumstances and with certain types of aircraft, it is not possible for pilots to comply with the published procedures. In simulated emergency situations or during other training exercises, the performance of the aircraft may be limited. For example, a twin-engined aircraft simulating an engine failure will have limited turn capability.

Generally, our noise abatement procedures ask our operators to avoid over flight of residential areas, wherever possible. The vast majority of our flights operate under what are called Visual Flight Rules (VFR), which means they navigate and avoid other aircraft by visual means (i.e. looking out of the window). ATC do not give these aircraft specific heading to fly, or tell them to turn at certain geographical points. Pilots normally use distance features on the horizon, rather than specific buildings close by to navigate. Downward vision from light aircraft is generally not good. Most pilots will be unable to see what is directly below them.

Pilots are responsible for their own separation from other aircraft and will frequently need to adjust their circuit pattern, particularly when there are lots of aircraft in the circuit. Adding in the effect of the wind, which will, of course, differ on every occasion, it should be apparent that it is not possible for aircraft to follow a specific track over the ground.

During the flight training process, students are required to fly ‘circuits’. This is a very important part of a students training as it incorporates all of the basic flying manoeuvres: take off, climbing, medium level turns, levelling off, straight and level flying, descending and landing. A normal circuit session will last approximately 45 minutes, with each circuit taking between 5 – 7 minutes, and this is why you will repeatedly see the same aircraft.

Modern aircraft are now being manufactured with quieter engines. There are a number of these modern aircraft based at the airport already and, in time, they will make a significant difference to the amount of noise generated.

When a student learns to fly a twin engine aircraft, they are required to train in asymmetric flying operations to simulate the loss of an engine. When flying asymmetrically, one engine is ‘feathered’. This means the engine is intentionally throttled back to idle power and the RPM on the remaining engine is increased to compensate for it, increasing the noise.

Most of the students learning to fly a twin engine aircraft are training commercial pilots. These are the pilots who will go on to fly passenger aircraft. All commercial pilots have to begin their training at an airport like ours, and on the smaller aircraft. Gloucestershire Airport is proud to be one of the best training airfields in the country, offering student pilots a large range of facilities and full air traffic control.

Our runways are equipped with Precision Approach Path Indicators (PAPI’s), which are a guide to height for pilots when landing. The lights are set at a particular angle which, to the pilot on final approach, will appear either red or white. The colour of the light indicates to the pilot whether they are above, below or on the correct approach path. 4 red lights indicate that the aircraft is too low and 3 red lights and 1 white light indicates that the aircraft is slightly too low. 4 white lights indicate that the aircraft is too high and 3 white lights and 1 red light indicate that the aircraft is slightly too high. If the pilot can see 2 red lights and 2 white lights, the aircraft is on the correct approach path.

Rules of the Air state that an aircraft shall not be flown closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure. However, this does not apply to an aircraft that is taking off or landing.

Student pilots practise ‘engine failure after take off’ drills as part of their flight training. The flying instructor will idle the aircraft engine to simulate a failure, but the engine is not switched off and easily powered up again following the manoeuvre.

Aircraft take off and land into wind, with the wind being predominantly from the West in this area. However, when conditions allow, Air Traffic Control will vary the runway direction whenever possible.

Noise abatement procedures apply to most of our runways to minimise noise to our neighbouring residential areas. All pilots are encouraged to fly considerately and in accordance with the noise abatement procedures.

Military aircraft use Gloucestershire Airport on a regular basis for training and refuelling. Military aircraft are not bound by the Rules of the Air, and the Civil Aviation Authority does not have authority over military aviation; which is controlled by the Ministry of Defence.

Complaints and enquiries about military aircraft should be made to:

Ministry of Defence, Directorate of Air Staff
Complaints and Enquiries Unit
Zone H, 5th Floor
Main Building

Tel: 0207 218 6020

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Gloucestershire Airport