Kansas researchers are trying to make airplanes quieter with help from NASA grant

If you’re tired of loud airplanes flying over Wichita, Kansas researchers may have a solution.

They want to engineer a new liner made of sound-absorbing materials to put over the aircraft engines.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has awarded a three-year, $750,000 research grant to a team of university and industry leaders to develop the new acoustic liner. Three researchers from Wichita State University, Kansas State University and the University of Kansas will partner with ERG Materials and Aerospace Corp., Honeywell Aerospace and Spirit AeroSystems on the project.

“The research is driven by strict Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) noise regulations aimed at reducing the general population’s exposure to aircraft noise levels, which directly influence the location of new airports and expansion of current runways at existing airports,” a Wichita State news release states. “New technology to reduce aircraft engine noise will overcome engineering hurdles for the development of air taxis and new supersonic aircraft.”

Bhisham Sharma, a WSU assistant professor of aerospace engineering, is the lead researcher on the project.

“Our goal is to help reduce this noise by bringing together all our different expertise and developing new sound absorbing materials that can be installed directly over the aircraft engine rotor — the number one source of aircraft noise,” Sharma said in the release.

The plan is to develop a lightweight, minimal-thickness liner engineered to absorb sound while withstanding extreme engine environments, according to the release.

“As a world leader in manufacturing acoustically treated aerospace structures, Spirit is continuously striving for the next breakthrough in acoustics technology,” said Eric Hein, Spirit’s senior director for research and technology, in the WSU news release. “Spirit looks forward to combining our industry perspective with NASA’s world-class expertise and the research team Wichita State has assembled to develop the next generation of noise reduction and acoustic technologies for aerospace.”

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