Aircraft noise immunity prevails

Posted: 11th May 2017

HelicopterA couple who said that shattering helicopter noise from a nearby aerodrome made their lives a misery and wrecked their hopes of selling their £4 million home are back to square one following a Court of Appeal ruling.

After the couple launched proceedings alleging noise nuisance, a judge described the sound of helicopters making training flights from sloping ground near their home as excruciating. The aerodrome’s operators were issued with an injunction that restricted training exercises on the slope to two 15-minute sessions per week.

In upholding the operators’ challenge to that ruling, however, the Court of Appeal found that the flights benefited from the immunity from trespass and nuisance claims provided by the Civil Aviation Act 1982. Subject to height and distance limits, the immunity applied to noise and vibration caused by aircraft on an aerodrome and was not restricted to aircraft, including commercial jets, overflying private property.

In dismissing the couple’s claim and overturning the injunction, the Court noted that the landing and taking off exercises carried out on the slope were a mandatory part of the skills training required to obtain a helicopter pilot's licence and that the flights were conducted in accordance with normal aviation practice.