Silent aircraft

London Luton Airport is becoming a partner in the Cambridge-MIT Institute’s ‘Silent’ Aircraft Initiative, a group of outfits who are developing the design for a plane that is radically quieter than current passenger aircraft.

London Luton Airport is becoming a partner in the Cambridge-MIT Institute’s ‘Silent’ Aircraft Initiative, a group of companies and universities who are developing the design for a plane that is radically quieter than current passenger aircraft.

CMI’s ‘Silent’ Aircraft Initiative has an ambitious aim: to discover ways dramatically to reduce aircraft noise to the point where it would be virtually unnoticeable to people outside the airport perimeter in a typical built-up area. Not only will this directly advantage communities situated close to airports, it will also provide a major boost to the UK aerospace industry, and help UK airlines and airports to operate more productively.

To meet their targets, the Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI) ‘Silent’ Aircraft team are currently looking at a number of radical concepts – including embedding jet engines within the main fuselage, new undercarriage and airframe configurations, and a complete re-examination of the conventional wisdom on take-off and landing approaches.

“The overall shape of passenger aircraft has not altered a great deal over the last 50 years. Our approach is to design the aircraft with a major decrease in noise as a primary consideration from the onset; the configurations will thus differ substantially from current aircraft,” said Prof Ed Greitzer, who leads the research work being carried out at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

London Luton Airport is the latest partner involved in the three-year project, including regulators, airport operators, airlines, aerospace manufactures and representatives of community groups opposed to aircraft noise. Fellow partners in the project include British Airways, Boeing, the Civil Aviation Authority, Cranfield University, Marshalls Aerospace, National Air Traffic Services, and Rolls-Royce.

London Luton Airport has made a long-term commitment to the initiative, and an Airport team led by Airfield Environment Manager Neil Thompson will be assisting the CMI team in a variety of practical ways, allowing data acquistion vital for the development of the next generations of low noise emission passenger aircraft.

“Our technology development is influenced by many external factors, which we have to understand if our design is to be successful. London Luton Airport has already provided valuable insight into the complexities of airport management and is a welcome partner,” said Paul Collins, the Project Manager of the CMI ‘Silent’ Aircraft Initiative.