Aircraft noise

Flughafen Zürich AG dedicates considerable attention to the issue of aircraft noise. Its Noise Management department analyses the noise situation and documents it transparently.

Noise monitoring

Flughafen Zürich AG operates a network of 14 noise monitoring stations at fixed locations near departure and arrival routes. The data collected are published monthly in a noise bulletin.

In 2018, aircraft noise levels at all monitoring stations in daytime and during the first night hour remained on a par with the previous year. The monitoring station to the north (4) registered a decrease in noise exposure during the second night hour, while the monitoring station to the south (12) of the airport recorded an increase. Compared with the previous year, exposure to aircraft noise at all other measuring points remained stable during the second night hour.

Changes in exposure to aircraft noise are mainly related to the different usage of individual take-off and approach routes.

Usage of landing and take-off routes in 2018 (in % of total traffic). Routes with fewer than 50 flight movements per year are not shown.


Night-time flights (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.) are often perceived as a disturbance by local residents. In 2018, night flights accounted for 5.0% (2017: 4.7%) of all flights. Special authorisations were issued for a total of 312 flights (2017: 311) during the night-time curfew period. Such night flights are only authorised when there are justifiable grounds for them.


The Noise Management department monitors all departures for adherence to the prescribed flight paths which are mandatory during the daytime up to an altitude of 5,000 feet above sea level and at night up to flight level 80 (approximately 8,000 feet). In 2018, 178 (2017: 167) investigations were triggered and 25 (2017: 25) interviews with chief pilots were conducted. The most frequent reason for deviations from the prescribed flight paths were specific instructions from air traffic control.


Flughafen Zürich AG encourages airlines to operate the quietest possible aircraft on their connections to Zurich. All jet aircraft are assigned to one of five noise categories, each of which has a different charge rate for take-off and landing. In addition, the rates for night-time flights vary according to noise category and the specific take-off or landing time. In 2018, at around 54% (2017: 56%), noise category 4 accounted for the highest percentage of flights during the night (10 p.m.–6 a.m.).

An amended noise charge model was submitted to FOCA at the end of 2014. It provides for an increase in the off-peak night-time surcharge and an easing mechanism for airlines with long-haul connections (except for flights between 11 p.m. and 11.30 p.m.). An expert report (by Dr. A. Wittmer) published during the reporting year came to the conclusion that this amended model is inherently suitable for improving the steering effect of charges, in particular with regard to evening delays, without disrupting hub operations.


In 2018, a total of 567 aircraft engine tests (2017: 650) were performed in the noise protection hangar. The majority (82%) of engine tests carried out at night were for short-haul and medium-haul aircraft. Most aircraft engine tests for long-haul aircraft such as the A343, A333 and B777 and all other aircraft types were performed during the day.

In 2018, the maximum noise exposure level for engine tests was exceeded once. This is significantly less than the 25 instances permitted per year in accordance with the operating regulations. According to figures provided by the aircraft maintenance companies, 544 additional idle tests were performed on the apron and on the stands. A total of 419 idle tests were carried out during the day between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., and 125 were run at night between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Communication with local residents

Communicating with people in neighbouring communities is important to Flughafen Zürich AG. Local residents affected by aircraft noise can call or e-mail Flughafen Zürich AG directly with questions or complaints and staff from the Noise Management department will respond to specific questions. Landings on runway 34 constituted the most frequent cause for complaint during the reporting year. The number of complaints and queries received was on a par with the previous year.