DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT
CODE OF PRACTICE FOR THE MINIMISATION OF NOISE FROM MODEL AIRCRAFT
1.1 The sport of flying model aircraft provides enjoyment for many. It
can also create noise, some of it unavoidable, which is no part of that
enjoyment and may annoy or disturb others. The purpose of this Code of
Practice is to describe how such annoyance or disturbance may be minimised
so that the sport may be pursued in a reasonable and considerate manner
and coexist peacefully with other pursuits.
1.2 The Code of Practice does not in itself create offences or have the
force of law, but it is intended to be of assistance to local authorities
and magistrates courts in the exercise of their powers and functions under
the provisions described in the following paragraph, and in reaching informal
agreement with model flying clubs on methods of noise control. The Code
of Practice cannot however override any restrictions or requirements imposed
under those provisions.
METHOD OF USE OF THIS CODE OF PRACTICE
3.1 This Code of Practice contains guidelines which, if followed, should
ensure that undue disturbance is avoided in most circumstances. Its terms
are not intended as hard-and-fast rules to be applied to every site; local
circumstances differ, and more stringent or less stringent controls may
be appropriate in individual cases or on the same site over the years.
(a) Where a site has been used for some years without causing complaint,
there will normally be no need to require the pattern of use to be modified,
unless external circumstances or the character of use alters significantly
and disturbance is caused as a result.
(b) Where complaints have been received about existing sites, the Code
is intended to guide local authorities, model flyers and others on the
ways in which intensity and manner of use may be adapted to allow the
use to continue, if possible, without causing further disturbance.
(c) Where the use of a new site is contemplated, the Code may be used
to determine, before use starts, what constraints may be necessary to
avoid a nuisance.
In both this case and that of an existing site which has caused complaints,
it is recommended that the model flyers, the local authority and the near
neighbours of the site should discuss, in the light of this Code, any
limits which might be necessary to prevent undue disturbance being caused
by noise. Since clubs can often exert very effective control over the
type and manner of operation of model aircraft on a site, it is recommended
that, wherever possible, those wishing to operate model aircraft should
join or form a club to arrange their activities responsibly. Such clubs
should then be given every encouragement to concentrate their activities
on the most suitable sites.
4.1 In this Code the following definitions apply:
(a) ‘The Act’
The Control of Pollution Act 1974 in respect of Scotland, England and
Wales. The Pollution Control and Local Government (Northern Ireland) Order
1978 in respect of Northern Ireland. Words and expressions which are defined
in the Act have the same meaning in this Code unless otherwise defined
in a particular context.
(b) ‘Model Aircraft’
There are many types of model aircraft, and several of these are either
silent or powered by rubber or electric motors, noise from which is insignificant.
This Code is not concerned with them and in it the expression ‘model
aircraft’ means only a flying machine which, owing to its size,
is not capable of carrying a human being and which, being powered by an
internal combustion engine, can give rise to a significant noise.
(c) ‘Noise measurement’ and ‘dB(A)’
These refer to sound measured by means of equipment complying with BS5969:1980
(‘Specification for sound-level meters’), using the A-weighting
response, and with the noise meter set to ‘slow’ response.
Details of the appropriate method of measurement are given later.
(d) ‘Noise-sensitive premises’
Any premises, including surrounding gardens etc. used as a dwelling, hospital,
or similar institution, school (in school hours in term time or at other
times when in use), or place of worship (during recognised times and days
of worship) or used for any other purposes likely to be affected by an
increase in sound level.
(e) ‘Flying site’
Any premises used for flying of model aircraft.
(f) ‘Point of launch’
The position of the operator, in the case of controlled models, or the
point at which the model is released for flight in the case of free-flight
(g) ‘Free-flight model’
A model whose flight path is predetermined but which is not under the
direct control of any person during its flight.
(h) ‘Controlled model’
A model whose flight path is under the direct control of the operator
at all times.
A device which when fitted to a model aircraft engine has the effect of
significantly reducing the noise emitted.
5.1 It is not the concern of the Code to go into detail of the various
types of powered model aircraft. They may however be divided broadly into
(a) ‘Limited engine-run’, where the engine runs for a short
time (seldom more than 10 seconds) to raise the model into the air, the
rest of the flight being silent as the model glides down. These models
are normally of the free-flight type.
(b) ‘Continuous engine-run’, where the engine may run for
the duration of the flight and the model is controlled. The method of
control may be by flying the model on lines (control-line aircraft) in
which case quite small premises such as small recreation grounds and playing
fields will allow adequate space.
Alternatively, the control may be by radio and those models (radio-controlled
aircraft) range over a greater area and are commonly flown from larger
recreation grounds, parks and similar public spaces as well as airfields
and private premises. They can, however, be operated from quite small
5.2 Model aircraft with continuous engine runs are in general more likely
to give rise to a disturbance than types with limited engine run because
the engine runs for longer periods.
OPERATING GUIDELINES FOR REDUCING NOISE EMISSION
6.1 The most effective and fundamental way of avoiding disturbance is
to cut down the noise at source. Like other internal combustion engines,
those in model aircraft create a certain amount of unavoidable noise.
It is possible, however, to reduce unnecessary noise by use of a muffler.
The engines used are all basically the same and may normally be fitted
with a muffler without undue reduction of operating power.
6.2 It is recommended that
(a) Model aircraft should be fitted with a muffler wherever this is practicable,
except in the case of competitive flying as described in c.(i) and c.(ii)
(b) Except for competitive flying as described in c.(i) and c.(ii) below,
no model should be operated which gives a noise measurement at 7 metres
of more than 82 dB(A).
(c) The exceptions referred to in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) are cases
(I) The operator is taking part in national or international competitions;
(ii) the operator holds a current competition licence or permit issued
by the British Model Flying Association (BMFA), the Scottish Aeromodellers
Association (SAA) or any other UK body recognised by the Federation Aeronautique
Internationale, and is practising for competitive purposes at times and
on sites approved by the BMFA or the SAA where distance, natural or other
barriers or a high ambient noise level make noise nuisance highly likely.
6.3 Where substantial disturbance is caused by operating unmuffled model
aircraft at any site, unmuffled flying should not be permitted to continue.
Provided that intolerable disturbance would not be caused, muffled flying
could be allowed to continue from the site at least for an experimental
period to see whether it could continue, having regard to the nature of
its surroundings, without causing a nuisance.
REDUCING RECEPTION OF NOISE AROUND SENSITIVE PREMISES
7.1 Because of the technical limitations on controlling noise emitted
from individual model aircraft, additional precautions may be necessary
to limit the model-flying noise heard by neighbours.
The following factors are relevant:
(a) separation distance
(b) times of operation
(c) numbers of model aircraft in operation simultaneously
(d) barriers between flying site and noise-sensitive premises
It is recommended that the combination of these factors appropriate to
a site should be agreed between the local authority and those representing
the model flyers. Not all sites will need requirements or restrictions
under all these heads. Wherever possible, local practical tests should
be made by the local authority and the model flyers in order to determine
reasonable limits for the overall noise from a site, these then being
translated into limits on emission from each model, the number of models
flown at one time, and the minimum distance from noise-sensitive premises.
7.2 If circumstances change, it may be appropriate to review and amend
the terms of the agreement, for example where the emission levels of models
decrease markedly, or where a new or different club assumes responsibility
for model flying from a site.
7.3 Even when muffled, a model aircraft may still sound noisy, and should
not be flown too close to
noise-sensitive premises. The minimum distance from such premises at which
a model aircraft should be flown depends on the exact nature of the premises
and the surroundings.
(a) Where no direct supervision (e.g. by clubs) of flying is possible,
it is recommended that the following should apply:
(I) the point of launch of control-line and model aircraft with limited
engine run should not normally be closer to any noise-sensitive premises
than 300 metres;
(ii) the point of launch of radio controlled models with continuous engine
run (which range over a greater area) should not normally be nearer to
any noise-sensitive premises than 500 metres;
(iii) models should not be flown closer to any noise-sensitive premises
than 200 metres.
(b) Where more detailed supervision and control may be exerted (e.g. by
clubs) and other factors (e.g. noise emission levels) can be varied to
compensate if necessary, separation distances may be more flexible and
be related to the time of day and type of surroundings. However, model
aircraft should only very exceptionally be allowed to fly closer to any
noise-sensitive premises than 200 metres.
Times of Operation
7.4 The hours of flying have an important bearing on the likelihood of
disturbance; the type of model is less important since it is the existence
of the noise rather than its intensity, or degree of continuity, which
causes disturbance, if the hours of operation are unreasonable. Generally
the points of launch and closest approach of model aircraft should not
be as near to noise-sensitive premises as suggested in 7.3 at the times
of day and days in the week when people consider that they have a particular
right to peace and quiet in and around their homes; special problems may
arise at weekends when noise from model flying may conflict with other
7.5 The times of day and days of the week when any model flying noise
is unacceptable will differ between areas and are a matter for local determination.
In general however it is recommended that where detailed control of numbers
and separation distances is not possible, or is inadequate to avoid substantial
disturbance at the more sensitive times, flying should not be allowed
outside the hours of 9 am 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 am to 7 p.m. on Sundays
and Bank Holidays. Longer hours may be possible in the evening if control
can be exercised, e.g. by a club or site owner, and disturbance would
not be caused.
7.6 If more than one site is available within reasonable distance, annoyance
suffered by any individual may be minimised by alternating use between
the sites; e.g. using one on Saturday and the other on Sunday. It should
be borne in mind that some sites may be available to model flyers only
at times when other users having higher priority do not require the land
(e.g. industrial premises or airfield) and this may in itself curtail
the available time for flying. To be reasonably fair, limits on flying
time may in such cases need to be more flexible, if this is possible without
Numbers of model aircraft in operation simultaneously
7.7 Two model aircraft each emitting the same level of noise may, if flown
together, produce an overall noise level up to 3 dB(A) above that of the
individual aircraft. The disturbance caused may be greater than is apparent
from this simple change, owing to increased variations in sound level.
If a particular type of model cannot reasonably avoid being near the limit
recommended in 6.2.(b), it should be operated by itself unless the site
is well protected, or remote, or its surroundings are insensitive to noise.
Where the site is not so situated, more than one noisy model should be
flown only if the distance from noise-sensitive premises can be increased.
Barriers between flying site and noise-sensitive premises
7.8 Topographical features such as hills can afford protection against
sound, as can large buildings. Where it is possible, and on balance likely
to lessen disturbance, flying sites should be chosen to take advantage
of these, and less stringent minimum distances may then be practicable
without risking undue disturbance. It should be noted however that belts
of trees, unless dense and wide, have little attenuating effect on noise.
MODEL AIRCRAFT NOISE IN OTHER NOISE-SENSITIVE AREAS
8.1 People may be disturbed by noise from model aircraft in the countryside
as well as indoors or in their own gardens, and the peace and quiet of
rural areas should be respected. In addition there may be some urban open
spaces, such as ornamental parks or children's play areas, where model
flying would be inappropriate and should not take place at all. Nature
and wildlife reserves, country parks or other countryside areas where
people go to relax in quiet and peaceful surroundings, should also be
avoided by model flyers.
Preferably, model flying in country areas should be confined to specified
locations where suitable provisions have been or can be made with the
agreement of local farmers or landowners, and where the risk of disturbance
is relatively slight. Noisy pursuits will usually be out of place in National
Parks. Model flyers should therefore seek the agreement of the National
Park Authority before operating from any site in a National Park, however
remote it may be.
8.2 Most animals, whether wild or domesticated, are probably not unduly
worried by model aircraft noise; it can however be distressing to some
at sensitive times, for example to mares when in foal, sheep at lambing
time or birds in the nesting season. It is recommended that model flying
clubs or representatives should discuss with the owners of surrounding
land, or local wildlife preservation bodies, any times and places where
animals are likely to be unusually sensitive and would benefit from a
temporary suspension or reduction of model flying activity.
MAJOR MODEL FLYING EVENTS
9.1 From time to time major model flying events are held, which are of
interest to large numbers of participants and spectators. It is likely
that such an event will mean a temporary intensification of use of a site.
In considering the desirable scale and frequency of such events at any
site the organisers and the local authority will be able to use the provisions
of paragraphs 6 to 8 of this Code of Practice as a guide, but it should
be borne in mind that higher levels of noise resulting from occasional
short intensification of use, may be more acceptable than the same levels
of noise would be if they arose regularly and frequently. If the site
is well chosen, serious disturbance need not be caused.
9.2 The organisers should ensure that unnecessary noise is kept to the
minimum where disturbance is possible, and should limit ground running
of engines, which can add appreciably to the overall noise level.
9.3 The organisers of any projected major model flying event should notify
the local authority in advance of their intention to hold the event; they
should also be expected to publicise it locally well in advance, giving
a clear estimate of the date, time and expected duration of the event.