Stealth submarine technology under consideration

Lufthansa Technik is aiming to develop submarine stealth technologies to slash cabin noise in future commercial aircraft.

Speaking on the future of the cabin on the recent Lufthansa/Airbus A380 transatlantic route-proving flight Bernhard Conrad, LHT senior vice-president and chief technology officer, said active rather than passive noise suppression remains the technological equivalent of the "holy grail".

Active noise suppression using "exciters" or electrodynamic devices to cancel or replace noise with, for example, music was originally developed to allow submarines to go undetected.

"The suppression of aerodynamic noise in the cabin is a very important feature of cabin comfort and there is still a lot to be done in this area," said Conrad.

He added that LHT is seeking out industry and research partners to develop active noise-suppression technologies whose applications in aviation remains at a highly rudimentary stage.

"VIP and business jet operators have already demonstrated how cabin noise can be lowered by 50db using passive noise suppression using fabric-dampening techniques and we are increasingly seeing the migration of technologies from that sector into commercial aviation," said Conrad. "Noise-suppression technology is one area that represents a great opportunity that we could translate into large-scale applications - essentially our playground."

Conrad said that for such technology to be adopted by the airline industry it would have to "achieve a sensible, meaningful and achievable cost equation as a business jet specification would be too costly and too heavy. Active noise suppression is furthermore not possible for all frequency ranges and sound pressure levels."

According to Conrad, current applications use panel speakers that "are only suitable for making music, replacing rather than cancelling noise". He said that LHT is seeing for partners to research further and examine how frequency ranges are perceived by the individual. "We don't have a supplier or even a concept as yet but this is something definitely we are going to explore further," he said.

For more Airbus A380 related news, please visit our A380 page

Source: Flight International