When you’re flying in an aircraft, some noises are relatively easy to ignore, while others are deeply annoying. For this reason, Airbus is doing all it can to make all its new aircraft cabins as quiet as possible.
In Airbus news released online earlier this month (August 2016), the company stated that it was using a highly innovative “representative fuselage segment” that is able to proximate an A320-sized plane. The A320 “family” of aircraft are single-aisle jetliners that are used all over the world for both intercontinental flights and short hauls.
Originally launched in 1984, the A320 has been improved continuously ever since. The aircraft already boasts advanced technology including:
- Weight-saving composites
- An ultra-efficient optimized wing design
- Centralized fault display the improves troubleshooting and decreases Airbus maintenance costs
- Fly-by-wire flight controls that improve safety and reduce the workload for pilots
The pioneering noise reduction study aims to make Airbus cabins of the A320 family and other Airbus aircraft, “the quietest and most comfortable in the sky.”
Acoustic Laboratory for Noise Testing
The resource Airbus is using for the new study is an acoustic laboratory based in Hamburg, Germany that uses a new test platform supplied by the Center for Applied Aviation Research (ZAL). Considered a mammoth breakthrough in noise testing, they are able to achieve what previously could only be evaluated during test flights, or by studying isolate components.
The ZAL acoustic chamber has the capacity to accommodate fuselage “demonstrators” that are up to 15 meters long and eight meters high, including Airbus widebody products, specifically the A350 XWB and A330. These large Airbus aircraft have twin-aisles, and offer superior efficiency and comfort. They also use 25 percent less fuel than other aircraft, which is great Airbus news for operators. Given the company’s mission to make their aircraft quieter, demand will only continue to grow.
Airbus News Reveals How Their Craft Will Become Quieter Than Ever
The 8.5 m-long ZAL Airbus fuselage demonstrator currently in use in Hamburg has been designed specifically to replicate engine noise. The way it works is that the demonstrator is subjected to sound waves around the circumference of the fuselage through a series of 128 speakers, each of which can be individually controlled.
Because the lab is able to accurately reproduce the conditions that apply when the aircraft is in flight, researchers are able to examine ways of reducing noise in the aircraft cabin without having to do expensive test flights. The acoustic chamber they have set up also allows them to do detailed comparisons using “real-world physics” together with simulation models.
According to one of the project co-leaders, Henning Scheel, the research teams are focusing on pinpointing:
- Where noise enters aircraft cabins
- How noise is spread once it has entered the cabin
- And also how noise is transmitted
Once they have this information, they will be able to determine how background noise in the cabin can be reduced. Ideas they are exploring include:
- Making minor structural adaptations
- Changing the form of insulation used
- Using new materials that absorb noise more successfully in certain frequency ranges; these include embedded vibration dampers
According to Scheel’s co-leader Martin Wandel, the demonstrator will also significantly shorten development cycles for new solutions to minimize noise. He said that once the initial fuselage mock-up has been investigated thoroughly, the research team would work on interior cabin components. Later on there would be tests undertaken in the acoustic lab using “passengers.”
Prime Industries and Airbus
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