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NCSU team developing quieter ride for airplane passengers

Posted May 7, 2015

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— Flying through the sky next to the roaring engines of an airplane can be loud. But passengers may get some relief inside the cabin, thanks to a discovery from a North Carolina State University assistant professor.

Yun Jing, with the school's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said a composite material with a honeycomb design is great to use in the floor and ceiling of an airplane cabin because it’s strong and lightweight. But that design also allows a lot of engine noise to get into the cabin.

Jing and a team of researchers at NCSU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that adding a simple rubber membrane as thin as a couple of sheets of paper can block a lot of the noise.

Jing said the membrane cuts the noise by about 30 decibels, and that can make a huge difference for passengers.

“If you can reduce the noise by 30 dbs, it's almost like being in your living room,” he said.

Jing said passengers in smaller planes and helicopters would benefit the most, but even commercial airplane cabins could be quieter. The design may even be useful in automotive design.

The prototype is getting a lot of attention around the world, especially from weary travelers looking for relief. But Jing said one Internet commenter said a noisy cabin can be a good thing.

“His argument was that he'd rather hear the engine noise than the crying babies' noise,” Jing said.

Jing is working to get funding and develop a larger prototype to test the design in a real airplane cabin.

6 Comments

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  • Fred Kozlof May 8, 2015
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    Maybe they can make blankets out of that stuff, and we then can use them to wrap around the babies and the non-stop yackers!

  • Chad Johnson May 8, 2015
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    I agree with Andrew. This is unneeded and actually helps drown out the annoying people

  • Chris Holder May 8, 2015
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    Make a quieter airplane, too :) Sincerely, someone who lives near the airport.

  • Alex Branoff May 8, 2015
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    View quoted thread



    I guess, when you build your next airplane, don't buy his rubber membrane.

  • Danny Dixon May 7, 2015
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    Totally agree Andrew. The money could be better spent on identifying ways to increase seat comfort and leg room. I've never heard anyone complain of engine noise. I prefer sitting near the wing to enjoy the benefits of the white noise.

  • Andrew Fox May 7, 2015
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    This is not a good thing at all. The engine noise is the "white noise" that drowns out the incessant, idiotic conversations of the other passengers, not to mention the annoying children having fits. If you fly then go ahead and get your noise cancelling headphones. This is ridiculous.