Is it time to recalibrate the Zurich Aircraft Noise Index?

The Zurich Aircraft Noise Index (ZFI) has been a subject of controversy since its introduction in 2006. EBP was commissioned by the Zurich Office of Transportation (AFV) to draft a report on the impact of recalibrating the ZFI.

Since its introduction in 2006, the Zurich Aircraft Noise Index (ZFI) has been used to track not decibel levels but the number of residents for whom aircraft noise is a major annoyance during the day, as well as the number whose sleep is disturbed by aircraft noise at night. In 2018, the Zurich Cantonal Council petitioned the Executive Council to show how the focus of ZFI can be recalibrated to take account of the additional settlement development provided for in the cantonal development plan. In response, the AFV issued a report on what a recalibration of the ZFI would entail.

Providing technical and process competence

We supported the AFV’s project management team by overseeing the procedural approach to the task at hand. This work included a systematic assessment of the feasibility and consequences of recalibrating the ZFI. With our technical expertise in the areas of noise control, transportation, and spatial development, we were also able to provide critical support for each project phase and compile the results into a general view for inclusion in the project report.

One of the report’s main conclusions is that the number of persons disturbed by aircraft noise can be significantly reduced in the period up to 2030 by introducing quieter aircraft and passive noise-mitigation measures – and this despite forecasts indicating significant increases in population and air traffic. While the Executive Council views the report as justification for not undertaking to recalibrate the ZFI, it does plan to make some modifications.

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