This picture depicts quite graphically what the cumulative impact of aircraft takeoffs might look like; imagine how a normal human’s ear would perceive these events. The policy issues which surround environmental performance of aircraft are challenging. Billions of research dollars have been spent to reduce noise, carbon emissions and other byproducts of creating thrust. The below article raises hope that there may be some improvement of an airplane’s noise profile.
The engineers at NASA Langley are borrowing techniques from the automotive industry, called auralization. This approach allows the aircraft design engineers to run iterations of a plane’s configuration (including the engines) to see if noise varies with different shapes/design/etc. Then the sounds created are tested by human subjects and how they perceive the different noises generated. The science is called psychoacoustics.
Steven Rizzi, a senior NASA researcher of aeroacoustics (and a musician by avocation) said “People in the automobile industry have been doing this for years…For aircraft, there really hasn’t been the capability until recently. By putting these pieces of prediction and auralization together, we have a new capability.” A team from GE recently visited the NASA laboratory and Rizzi summarized their comments as follows “[t]hey really started thinking, ‘Wow, what can we do?…We can do things in the design that really change the character of the sound and make it a lot more acceptable.’”
If GE engineers are excited by the prospects of auralization, that’s VERY encouraging.
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