​Flying through the sky next to the roaring engines of an airplane can be loud. But passengers may get some relief inside the cabin, thanks to a discovery from a North Carolina State University assistant professor.

Yun Jing, with the school’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said a composite material with a honeycomb design is great to use in the floor and ceiling of an airplane cabin because it’s strong and lightweight. But that design also allows a lot of engine noise to get into the cabin.

Jing and a team of researchers at NCSU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that adding a simple rubber membrane as thin as a couple of sheets of paper can block a lot of the noise.

Jing said the membrane cuts the noise by about 30 decibels, and that can make a huge difference for passengers.

“If you can reduce the noise by 30 dbs, it’s almost like being in your living room,” he said.

Jing said passengers in smaller planes and helicopters would benefit the most, but even commercial airplane cabins could be quieter. The design may even be useful in automotive design.

The prototype is getting a lot of attention around the world, especially from weary travelers looking for relief. But Jing said one Internet commenter said a noisy cabin can be a good thing.

“His argument was that he’d rather hear the engine noise than the crying babies’ noise,” Jing said.

Jing is working to get funding and develop a larger prototype to test the design in a real airplane cabin.


Reporter: Brian Shrader
Web Editor: Angie Basiouny