Aircraft Noise

Written by Robert Mac
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Aircraft noise, especially down by the runway, can damage hearing over time. And in propeller aircraft, noise from the spinning blades can interfere with communications much more than jet aircraft. Aviators and others in the flying industry use special sound reducing headphones to cut down on oppressive aircraft noise.

Aircraft Noise Can Be Harmful Over Time

Any high decibel noise can damage the delicate mechanics of the inner ear, causing loss of hearing or complete deafness over extended periods--just ask Pete Townsend of The Who. While progress is slow in reducing the sound of aircraft, it is possible to control the noise that makes it to the ear. Passive and active headphones reduce noise in two ways.

Passive noise reduction takes a passive approach: it cuts down the signal that makes its way to the ear. Thick, padded headsets that cover the ear or thin plugs that go in the ear block excessive noise from reaching the ear drum. When your plane is taxiing in from a flight, you can see the ground crew wearing passive sound reducing headphones.

Active noise reduction headphones take it one step further. Covering the ear, they passively block as much noise as possible, but then they create sound waves that cancel the sound that does make it in. Tiny microphones and an amplifier listen to the incoming background noise and make anti-noise that block out a lot of the low-frequency vibrations that we experience as excessive sound.

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