Quieter Cabins Anyone?
Focus on a more comfortable plane ride exists for designers of commercial airliners and private jets alike. Engineers consistently make strides in this area; however, a team of researchers at NC State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a solution they are confident will change the game of soundproofing aircraft cabins.
Essentially the process incorporates a light-weight honeycomb composite material that is already used for interior cabin structures. What’s different is injecting a paper-thin rubber membrane between two layers of the honeycomb material to drastically reduce the amount of sound that penetrates the material.
Naturally, to operate efficiently, it is extremely important to add as little weight to the airframe as possible. While it is difficult to estimate the exact weight adage, it is predicted that it will be less than 1%.
Low-frequency noise, below 500 Hertz, is where this process is most effective; blocking between 100 and 1,000 times more sound energy than a panel without the membrane.
While studies are still in an infancy stage, the team has received several preliminary inquiries from composite panel manufacturers and providers of aircraft acoustic insulation but perhaps the most promising is an inquiry from a major airframer.