Aircraft types and noise: The sound of Boeing or Airbus

The sound of an plane taking off can be music to one person’s ears and inconvenient noise to another. The sound is mainly produced by the engines and when the wind rushes past the wings. This differs between different types of aircraft, and depends on the weather conditions, flight path and flight procedure. We can’t predict whether you will think an Airbus is quieter than a Boeing, but we can measure and calculate the difference.

How much noise an aeroplane makes

The noise level of aircraft upon take-off is comparable to that of a lorry passing by at 70 km/h, yet the sound an aircraft makes is a bit more specific than the noise of road traffic. When an aeroplane flies above you, you will hear the sound swell to a maximum and then fade away. An aircraft makes a kind of noise trail over the ground. But how much noise do overflying aircraft make? That depends on the type of aircraft and the conditions. For comparison’s sake, an Airbus A320 or a Boeing 737 flying at a height of one kilometre above ground level will make less noise than your old vacuum cleaner.

Measuring and calculating noise

Schiphol is surrounded by microphones that measure the noise levels aircraft are generating at any given moment. This sounds like data that would be really useful; unfortunately, the recordings are affected by weather conditions and ambient noises, which may make it difficult to work out which sound comes from which aeroplane. We still want to be able to make positive agreements with our neighbours regarding the amount of noise, so we use calculations of the amount of noise. Evening and night-time flight services are given extra weight in these calculations. You can find out exactly how this works at

When noise becomes nuisance

You may find plane noise to be a nuisance – or may not. You might not be able to stand it at all, even if your partner or neighbour barely notices it. When noise interferes with what you’re doing, we say that you are experiencing noise nuisance. You can let us know about this interference by contacting the Local Community Contact Centre Schiphol, known by its Dutch acronym: BAS. In cooperation with air traffic control (LVNL) and the Schiphol Local Community Council, BAS collects all the comments and complaints we receive and looks into what we might be able to do for you. You can read more about BAS at

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