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General Information

On Aircraft Noise

The definition of the Federal Ministry for the Environment states: “Noise is any kind of unwanted loud sound”. That much is easy to understand. But how is noise actually created?

Noise is created by pressure fluctuations in the air. These vibrations propagate as sound waves. The stronger the pressure fluctuations are, the louder we perceive sounds. The sound pressure level (given in decibels) is a measure of this. The pitch of a tone depends on the number of vibrations per second (i.e. the frequency). The higher the frequency, the higher the tone.

Information on Aircraft Noise

To the website of the Federal Ministry for the Environment

Type of sound Volume Sound perception
Ticking of a quiet watch
Dripping tap
30 dB(A) Very quiet
Whispering close at hand 40 dB(A) Fairly quiet
Quiet radio 50 dB(A) Normal
Normal conversation
Aircraft when landing, 1000m overhead (TXL: Wustermark, Altlandsberg; SXF: Gröben, Grünheide)*
Aircraft when taking off, 3000m overhead (TXL: Ketzin; SXF: Gröben, Grünheide)*
60 dB(A) Normal to loud
Motor car travelling at 60 km/h when 25m away
Aircraft when landing, 700m overhead (TXL: Dallgow-Döberitz, Wartenberg; SXF: Genshagen, Hessenwinkel)* Aircraft when taking off, 1100m overhead (TXL: Falkenhagener Feld, Pankow-Heinersdorf; SXF: Müggelheim, Diedersdorf)*
70 dB(A) Rather loud
Bus travelling at 60 km/h at a distance of 25 metres
ICE train travelling at 250 km/h at a distance of 25 metres
Aircraft when landing, 200m overhead (TXL: Spandauer Neustadt, Schäfersee; SXF: Mahlow-Waldsiedlung, Bohnsdorf)*
Aircraft when taking off, 400m overhead (TXL: HOKA-Siedlung, Reinickendorf Englisches Viertel; SXF: Siedlung Hubertus)*
80 dB(A) Loud
Goods train travelling at 100 km/h at a distance of 25 metres
heavy truck travelling at 75 km/h at a distance of 7.5 metres
Aircraft when landing, 50m overhead (TXL: Kurt-Schumacher Platz)*
Petrol-driven lawnmower at a distance of 2 metres
Motorcycle at a distance of 5 metres
90 dB(A)


Pneumatic hammer 7 metres away
100 dB(A)
Very loud to unbearable
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How does BER provide relief to the Region?

Until October 2008 there were three airports in the German capital region: Tempelhof, Tegel and Schönefeld. Due to the inner-city location of Tegel and Tempelhof, noise pollution was extremely high for many residents. The concentration of flight operations at Berlin Brandenburg Airport has significally reduced the number of people affected by aircraft noise in the capital region. According to the State Development Plan 2006, 225,800 people were affeced by a continuous noise level of 55 dB(A) during the day in 2004 with a passenger volume of around 15 million passengers. In 2025, with an estimated double number of passengers, there will only be around 40,000 people affected. As positive as this development is for the region overall, the opening of BER has also meant that some people in it's vicinity have been affected by aircraft noise to a greater extent than before or for the very first time. We take their concerns and comments very seriously. With the implementation of the noise protection program, we are providing relief here. We are continuing to work on active noise reduction and want to keep our neigbors better informed and communicate more with them in the future, particularly via the Internet.

How is Aircraft Noise created?

When an aircraft takes off, the main source of its noise are the power units. It is the engine and the hot exhaust fumes, which mix at a high velocity with the cold air outside the power unit, that are responsible for the loud noises. The fuel is burned in the interior of the power unit. This also causes a great deal of noise. A further source of noise are the rotating turbines, the so-called fan, which accelerates the airflow. When landing, the noise is caused by the wings and the extended undercarriage. This is described as aerodynamic noise. The undercarriage and the opened landing flaps increase resistance and decelerate the machine.

How does one calculate Noise?

Aircraft noise is calculated using a complicated procedure. The size, turbines and load of an aircraft play as much of a role therein as do the flight routes and the different thrust settings during take-offs and landings. If flight altitude and sound propagation are taken into account, the noise exposure can be calculated relatively precisely. The decisive factor is how far away a point is from the noise source. In practice, the noise is usually lower than previously calculated. As it is the protection of the population that is at the fore, such a “buffer” makes sense. When recording the exposure to noise, the duration and frequency of the sound events are also important. The permanent noise level is determined by converting the sound events measured during a certain period at a certain location into a fictional persistent noise.