The Silent Aircraft Initiative is a movement with a radical and drastic agenda. The purpose of the Silent Aircraft Initiative is to develop the concept of a design for an aircraft that would make almost no noise or that would at least produce noise that is nearly imperceptible outside of the perimeter of an airport.
The Silent Aircraft Initiative requires a very unique approach to the design of both the aircraft and of course, the engines. The conceptual designs for the Silent Aircraft Initiative are still a long way off. They address a generation that is still two generations ahead of today’s aircraft. It is hoped that the Silent Aircraft Initiative could produce these types of aircraft by the year 2030.
One of the components to the Silent Aircraft Initiative has very little to do with design of the aircraft or the engine. It has to do with the operation of the aircraft and how aircraft takeoff and how they land at airports. The Silent Aircraft Initiative relies on information provided by airports, airlines, as well as air traffic control to help develop a variety of brand new enhanced procedures for the approach of an aircraft to the airport. These new approaches are based on something called continuous descent approaches, or CDAs for short. These approaches reduce the amount of noise the aircraft produces as it lands as well as the amount of fuel it burns because this approach eliminates level segments. This approach also keeps aircrafts at lower thrust for longer period of time than the regular, traditional, step-down approach.
The Silent Aircraft Initiative has a number of partners as well as sponsors. The Silent Aircraft Initiative is afforded by MIT, as well as the University
of Cambridge. In fact, those two institutions have created a knowledge integrating community that extends beyond the institutions and expands out to the airline industry, airport operators, policy makers as well as those in academia. The Silent Aircraft Initiative has identified a variety of challenges that come with producing the vehicles by the 2030 deadline. The study examines issues like financing, market viability, certification of silent aircraft, the acceptance by society of silent aircraft, technical challenges including the propulsion system in particular, as well as overall mechanical design of aircraft systems.
How effective the Silent Aircraft Initiative will be remains to be seen. The goal of relatively silent aircraft is a lofty one, and it will be a challenge to achieve by the year 2030.