Whitepaper: Preventing air transportation noise pollution

Achieving public-health sustainability goals through engineering simulation

Horizontal spacer

A large portion of the worldwide population lives in areas with high exposure to traffic noise. In Europe alone, it is estimated that more than 113 million people are affected by high noise levels which can cause chronic discomfort, heart disease as well as premature death. Among other environmental noise sources, aircraft are currently a major contributor of noise in urban environments. A wide set of regulations has been defined during the last decades in order to mitigate aircraft noise, including operational and planning regulations, as well as stringent noise standards that new aircraft need to respect so as to be certified for operation. To comply with these regulations and standards, aircraft manufacturers have strived to reduce the noise at the source as it is a proven way for mitigating noise issues and Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) is a tool of choice for designing and integrating innovative noise reduction technologies in the latest aircraft generations.

With the rise of the field of Urban Air Mobility, noise, along with safety, becomes the driving factor in the development of new air vehicles, which, with the help of engineering simulation, can be designed to achieve the low noise level required for them to operate within an urban environment.

This paper takes a fundamental approach to guide the reader through the problem of air transportation noise pollution and the possible solutions. At first, we explain the nature of sound and definition of sound levels, the techniques used to assess the exposure of populations to aircraft noise and the human response to noise. In the second part, we discuss the so-called balanced approach proposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to deal with the issue of aircraft noise. The balanced approach consists of working, in parallel, on four fronts: urban planning, low-noise operational procedures, airport operations restrictions and engineering techniques to reduce noise at source. In this last respect, the systematic use of computer-aided engineering techniques is instrumental in reducing the noise emitted by past, current and future aircraft generations.

As aircraft noise becomes a very important issue for urban and local communities, this reports intends to inform and educate about the issue of air transportation noise pollution as well as discuss solutions that would lead to quieter aircraft, and by extension to better health for the global population.