One of the hot topics at executive airports around the country centers on the issue of aircraft noise. Over the past few years, many municipal airports and private airfields have passed or are now considering passing noise abatement ordinances. For aircraft charter flyers, noise ordinances may play a role in establishing the scheduled departure or arrival of your charter flight.

Under Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 36, the FAA has established a noise classification system to determine the decibel level of an aircraft during take-off and landing. This classification system certifies aircraft in stages 1-4 and is based primarily on weight, the number of engines and passenger capacity of a given aircraft.

Stage 1 aircraft refers to the oldest (and loudest) aircraft; these planes are no longer permitted to operate in the United States as commercial aircraft, however a small number are still flown privately.

Stage 2 aircraft are the current subject of debate. Since January of 2000 stage 2 aircraft over 75,000lbs have been required by law to be phased out of commercial service.

Stage 3 and 4 Aircraft have become progressively quieter from earlier models. Stage 4 noise regulations became applicable to all new designs introduced after January 1, 2006.

The current issues surround Stage 2 aircraft – the oldest planes still in service. Out of the 16,000 or so business jets that are registered in the country, it’s estimated that about 1,400 of them are Stage 2 (or older). However, this small percentage of planes, about 9%, account for a much larger number of noise complaints.

Throughout the country a number of private airports, mostly near residential areas, have expressed a desire to reduce or eliminate the number of stage 2 flights that are serviced by their local executive airport. Independent organizations have formed proposing initiatives such as the “Sound Initiative” to lobby for the complete phase out of Stage 2 aircraft.

Many private airports have already put in place a number of restrictions. It is common to see increased landing fees, early morning/late evening departure and arrival restrictions and in some cases even outright bans on Stage 2 aircraft.

If you are renting a private jet or booking a charter flight into an airport with noise restrictions, you should check with your agent to see if the aircraft they charter on your behalf complies with the noise abatement ordinances of that airport.

The following private airports have implemented restrictions on Stage 2 aircraft:
Aspen, Colorado (ASE)
Burbank, California (BUR)
Jackson Hole, Wyoming (JAC)
Lake Tahoe, California (TVL)
Naples, Florida (APF)
Santa Monica, California (SMO)
Teterboro, New Jersey (TEB)
Van Nuys, California (VNY)