Stop, Hey, What’s That Sound?

By Jessica L. Tozer

Sorry, can you speak up?  I can’t hear you over the sound of those deafening JET ENGINES.

WHAT? UNSCREW THE BOLT? WELL, OKAY THEN...(Photo by Pfc. Kevin Crist)

The deafening roar of supersonic aircraft can cause hearing damage to sailors and Marines on flight decks, so the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is funding a new project to help reduce jet noise.

“The noise problem falls into two categories: noise exposure on the flight deck and noise impact on the communities surrounding air bases,” said Dr. Brenda Henderson, deputy manager for the Jet Noise Reduction project, part of ONR’s Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) program. “We’re funding the development of tools that we’ll need to help control jet noise in tactical aircraft.”

Hearing loss is not uncommon for service members, so combating this problem could mean more than keeping the jets at a comfortable indoor-voice level.

With support from ONR’s Basic Research Challenge program-which funds basic research in new areas not already covered by other programs- the Jet Noise Reduction project is a long-term effort.

The intensity of sound perceived by humans is measured in decibels. For example, a person whispering is 20 decibels and a lawn mower is 90 decibels. Factories are required to institute a hearing protection program once noise levels reach 85 decibels.

Shipboard aviation surpasses those limits. By a lot.  Jet noise from tactical aircraft can reach 150 decibels on the flight line, where sailors and Marines prepare fighters and other aircraft for launching.

It’s like working with a live concert blaring in your ears every day, only without the awesome guitar solos to rock you straight into deafness.

The research and tools produced by the eight teams in this project will help to create new approaches to noise-mitigation technology aimed at reducing levels of jet exhaust noise that, when combined with hearing protection, will result in safer noise environments for sailors and Marines.

In addition, the lower jet exhaust noise levels will aid in reducing noise complaints reported in communities near military bases.  After all, military installations should always aspire to be good neighbors.

Hey.  I said hey!  Keep it down over there!  No really, let’s keep it down.

Information for this article provided by the Office of Naval Research.

Jessica L. Tozer is a blogger for DoDLive and Armed With Science.  She is an Army veteran an avid science fiction fan, both of which contribute to her enthusiasm for technology in the military.


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