Noise and sound

Although the terms 'noise' and 'sound' can be used interchangeably, 'noise' is usually used to refer to an unwanted sound which has an effect on the listener, such as annoyance, while 'sound' is a generic term for anything acoustic. Learn more about noise and sound in the video below.

The source of

Aircraft noise

Although there are many sources of noise from aircraft (for example the engine, airframe, landing flaps and landing gear) it is usually the engine that causes the most noise.

Jet aircraft noise is caused by high velocity exhaust gases mixing with ambient air, combustion of fuel and compressor fans. Propeller aircraft and helicopters can also create noise from their rotating propellers cutting through the air. The amount of noise depends on the size of the propellers and the velocity of the propeller tips through the air.


To hear the difference between a selection of different aircraft types, captured on a noise monitor 5km from the airport, select the buttons below.

Keep the same volume as you listen to each file to compare the sounds.

Aeroplane in the sky

Differences in

Aircraft noise

The sound made by different aircraft can vary depending on factors such as the type of engine (for example, propeller or jet) and the height of the aircraft.

Generally noise from departing aircraft is greater than from that of an arriving aircraft. On departure, the noise level experienced on the ground from a particular aircraft is influenced by:

  • the aircraft type and size
  • the way the aircraft is flown by the pilot and the aircraft settings
  • the rate at which the aircraft climbs
  • meteorological conditions.

Long range heavy aircraft such as the Airbus A380 or Boeing 747 climb more slowly than smaller aircraft and therefore can be heard at higher noise levels for longer.

Improvements in both engine and airframe technologies have resulted in modern civil aircraft being more efficient and quieter. Australia has one of the most modern (and quiet) fleets of any country.


Want more


Learn more about how we undertake noise monitoring at airports around Australia using our Noise and Flight Path Monitoring System and how to reduce aircraft noise at home.