Posted on May 27, 2020 mary wilson aviation
When flying in a plane as either a passenger or employee, it is no surprise to say that aircraft are very loud during their operation. When leaving an aircraft, many may be familiar with feeling ear barotrauma which comes in the form of a “clogged” sensation. This is due to a number of noises that are caused both by the aircraft, as well as from outside forces acting upon the plane. To mitigate the effects of soundproofing and protect passengers and employees from hearing damage, thorough aircraft soundproofing is implemented. In this blog, we will discuss the sources of sound that affect hearing on aircraft, as well as the types of soundproofing that are used to dampen their adverse effects.
In general, there are four primary sources of sound that affect noise levels. The first source is the propellers, which are the mechanical components that transform rotary motion into a propulsive slipstream. As these heavy objects rotate with great velocity, they can generate a significant amount of noise. The next culprit of noise is the engine, which produces two major outputs. The first is exhaust gas, which creates a sound as the gas is moved throughout the system and expelled. The second is vibration, caused by the operation of the engine itself. The last major source of noise that must be mitigated is from the aerodynamic forces of the aircraft as it flies. These include factors such as turbulence and slipstream, and such noises are similar to that of a car as it drives.
Depending on the type of aircraft, area, and cost, various soundproof materials and methods may be implemented for aircraft soundproofing. Throughout the aircraft cabin, engineers will typically set out specific types of soundproofing materials in the areas which are most likely to transmit noise. Sometimes referred to as “hot spots”, some of these primary areas that are soundproofed include the cabin sidewalls, roofs, wing-roots, kick panels, firewall, and the cowl forward of the windshield. Windows are an area where a great amount of noise can come in from, thus utilizing as thick of a material as possible is recommended.
For the cabin, materials such as fiberglass composites are commonly used due to their ability to dampen high frequency sounds and withstand high heat levels. When installing aircraft soundproofing, materials without aluminum backing are most useful for areas in which specific shapes are needed. Wool felt is another type of aircraft soundproofing material that is commonly used due to its noise dampening properties. When installing airplane soundproof materials, utilizing substances such as neoprene contact cements are common for installation.
With optimal aircraft soundproofing, both the passengers of the aircraft and those who are working to produce a successful operation can speak and hear comfortably throughout the flight. For workers, this is highly important as they can then easily communicate with each other without having to rely on headset technology or other methods to ensure safety. As employees may remain on aircraft for long durations and for multiple consecutive flights, soundproofing remains critical for the long-term preservation of hearing and health.
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