NASA Is Making Planes 70% Quieter

Jun 26, 2018

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NASA’s projects go far beyond space exploration — after all, NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. For instance, in May we learned that Amazon and NASA have joined forces to develop air traffic control systems specifically for drones. Now, NASA is working to make the world quieter.

The agency just successfully completed a series of flights (using a Gulfstream III — you’re welcome #AvGeeks) testing a range of alterations to existing aircraft that could increase the efficiency of plans and reduce the noise they generate when landing by more than 70%. Components added to reduce the airflow noise include a flexible material that covers the gap when a plane’s flaps are extended, a net that’s stretched across the opening of the main landing gear cavity and more aerodynamic plating along the front of the landing gear.

Image courtesy of NASA.

“The number one public complaint the Federal Aviation Administration receives is about aircraft noise,” said Mehdi Khorrami, an aerospace scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, and principal investigator for Acoustic Research Measurement. “NASA’s goal here was to reduce aircraft noise substantially in order to improve the quality of life for communities near airports,” he added.

With demand for air travel rapidly growing and airports building runways to expand their capacity, it’s good to see that NASA remains committed to directly benefit the public. There’s no doubt that the new technology will benefit communities near airports and foster expanded airport operations, but only time will tell when it’s actually implemented by commercial aircraft manufacturers. NASA introduced winglet technology in the 1970s and has since saved airlines billions of dollars in fuel costs.

Featured image courtesy of NASA / Ken Ulbrich.

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