Aircraft noise

The impact of flight operations on the locality is a key concern for Flughafen Zürich AG. Our Noise Management department analyses and provides transparent reports on the noise situation.

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.

Compared with the previous year, noise exposure remained stable during daytime at all monitoring stations. While the monitoring stations to the west (1 and 2) recorded an increase during the first night hour, those to the south (6, 12 and 13) registered a slight decrease in aircraft noise levels during the first and second night hours. At all other measuring points, aircraft noise exposure remained on a par with the previous year the first two night hours.

Changes in exposure to aircraft noise are mainly related to the allocation of flight movements to specific take-off and approach routes.

Usage of landing and take-off routes in 2019 (in % of total traffic). Routes with fewer than 50 flight movements per year are not shown.


Residents often perceive night-time flights to be particularly disturbing. In 2019, night flights (between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.) accounted for 4.8% (2018: 5.0%) of all flight movements. Special authorisations were issued for a total of 272 flights (2018: 312) during the night-time curfew period (11.30 p.m. to 6 a.m.). Such night flights are only authorised when there are justifiable grounds (see noise statistics).


The Noise Management department monitors all departures from Zurich Airport for adherence to the prescribed flight paths. These are mandatory during 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 2019, 136 (2018: 178) investigations were triggered and 29 (2018: 25) interviews with chief pilots were conducted. As in the previous year, the most frequent reason for deviations from the prescribed flight paths were specific instructions from air traffic control.


All jet aircraft are assigned to one of five noise categories, each of which has a different charge rate for take-off and landing. This gives airlines a financial incentive to operate the quietest possible aircraft on their Zurich routes. In addition, the rates for night-time flights vary according to noise category and the specific take-off or landing time. In 2019, at around 53% (2018: 54%), noise category 4 accounted for the highest percentage of flights during the night (10 p.m.–6 a.m.).

New noise charges for the shoulder periods and at night came into force at Zurich Airport on 11 September 2019. These are intended to ensure efficient – and consequently more punctual – handling of air traffic during the evening and so reduce the number of flights after 11 p.m.


In 2019, a total of 487 aircraft engine tests (2018: 567) were performed in the noise protection hangar. The majority (88%) 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.

The permitted noise level was exceeded three times in 2019. 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, 973 additional idle tests were performed on the apron and on the stands. A total of 690 idle tests were carried out during the day between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., and 283 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. In 2019, landings on runway 34 constituted the most frequent cause for complaint. The number of complaints and queries received was around 10% higher than the previous year.