Reducing Airplane Noise for the Future
The Silent Aircraft Initiative was conceived in 2003 in an effort to reduce noise pollution. Engineers, researchers, and scientists from around the world joined forces to dramatically control the amount of noise produced by airplanes. The University of Cambridge-MIT Institute developed a conceptual design for a quieter commercial aircraft.
Wings and engines are the biggest offenders contributing to noise pollution on airplanes. Besides being noise makers, airplanes also pollute the air. Researchers were able to conceive an aircraft design called SAX-40 that not only reduces noise pollution, but also air pollution.
Wings: Wings help a plane get off of the ground. Planes need to run their engines on high speeds to make the wings function effectively. Not only do the wings create noise as they work, but the high speed of the engines also add to the deafening environment when a plane takes off.
Engines: Engines are the biggest noise contributors on airplanes. They are located under the wings, close to the ground. Most airplanes use gas turbine engines. These look like large fans, and run on 1500 horse power. They have the capacity to be very powerful, even though their counterparts are often much larger.
The design of today's airplanes creates a lot of noise. Researchers working on the Silent Aircraft Initiative have developed an aerodynamic design that is able to decrease noise, offers good cruise performance, and is also more fuel efficient. By changing the wing design, moving the engines, and reshaping the undercarriage of airplanes, the SAX-40 has better lift capabilities, and also uses less fuel during take-off and landing, as well as while in flight.
Wing Design: Today's airplanes have two wings, one on each side of the plane. The wings also have flaps that help them make the plane ascend and descend. As the flaps perform, they make a lot of noise. The SAX-40 has only one wing. The entire shape of the plane is sleeker, allowing for slower engine speeds when taking off and landing. The one wing design helps the whole plane generate lift.
Engine Placement: Engines are located under the wings of planes, close to the ground. By moving the engines on top of the wings on the plane, noise is sent upward into the sky.
Redesigning Cargo Space: The undercarriage of planes is large and bulky. The conceptual design of the SAX-40 plane creates a more aerodynamic undercarriage. This not only helps the plane function better, but it also reduces noise during take-off and landing. As noise is reduced, so if fuel consumption. Redesigning the structure of the plane so that it can function more effectively helps with noise and air pollution.
Preparing for the Future
Researchers predict that air traffic will double over the next twenty years. While the concept of the SAX-40 aircraft sounds wonderful, it seems unlikely that that this plane will ever become a new plane in our skies. The design of today's aircrafts is not only more economical, but also easier to construct. Engineers are working to integrate many of the features of the SAX-40 into our present planes. Their goal is to leave aircraft noise at the airport by the year 2030.