When we think of aircraft noise pollution, the first thing that likely comes to mind is the roar and whine of jet engines that propel the large vehicle through the sky. However, an airplane’s fuselage and wings are also to blame. This is called aerodynamic noise and is the result of the airflow around an aircraft’s body and control surfaces, which is loudest at low altitudes with higher air density.
Engineers at NASA’s Advanced Air Transport Technology (AATT) project are working to mitigate this problem by designing a new leading-edge wing that aims to decrease aircraft noise while taking off and landing.
Aircraft-derived noise pollution is a particularly problematic issue because it’s not only affecting people living close to airports but also wastes energy that would be otherwise used to propel the vehicle. Additionally, it’s more expensive because airports base their fees in part on the amount of noise an aircraft makes.
To gain a better understanding of this phenomenon and potential ways to mitigate it, NASA engineers have recently conducted a subsonic wind tunnel testing on a one-tenth scale model of a new wing design called the “Quiet-High-Lift.”
The test involved a scaled-down airplane body cut in half and laid on its flat side on the wind tunnel. The body also features a mounted wing that included operating slats and flaps, as well as a model engine and retractable undercarriage. All of these component replicas enable the researchers to gather the empirical evidence they need to simulate wing noise.
The ultimate aim is to modify the wing elements to make them more aerodynamically efficient and, as a result, less loud. After completing the small-scale model tests, the engineers plan to move on to large-scale wind tunnel tests to further develop the tech until it can be adopted by the aerospace industry.
Image source: NASA