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Partnership for Air Transportation Noise & Emission Reduction

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PARTNER releases low-frequency noise report

DECEMBER 11, 2007 — The Partnership for AiR Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction (PARTNER), a leading aviation cooperative research organization headquartered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has released a report that provides new information for ensuring that communities in proximity to airports are minimally affected by aviation-generated low-frequency noise.

Aircraft emit low-frequency noise during takeoffs, and when engine thrust reversers are used to slow landings. Since low-frequency sound encounters less absorption than higher frequency sound as it travels through the air, it persists for longer distances.

People perceive low-frequency noise as a distant rumbling sound, structural vibration, or by objects rattling in their homes.

Some of the study’s major findings are:

Most importantly, the study presents numerous technical recommendations for metrics that planners may now use in calculating potential low-frequency noise impacts on local communities. Several U.S. airports, such as Baltimore-Washington International and Minneapolis-St. Paul International, with communities in proximity to runways, have experienced low-frequency noise problems. The improved understanding gained from the PARTNER study will help airports, communities, government agencies, and other stakeholders address potential future LFN concerns.

Anthony Atchley and Kathleen Hodgdon of Pennsylvania State University led the research team, which consisted of participants from Penn State, Purdue University, and University of Central Florida. The work was funded by the FAA’s Office of Environment and Energy in response to a Congressional request.

More information on PARTNER’s low frequency noise research project is available on the LFN Web page.The Partnership for AiR Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction
The Partnership for AiR Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction is an MIT-led FAA/NASA/Transport Canada-sponsored Center of Excellence. PARTNER fosters breakthrough technological, operational, policy, and workforce advances for the betterment of mobility, economy, national security, and the environment. PARTNER represents the combined talents of 12 universities, three federal agencies, and 50 advisory board members, the latter spanning a range of interests from local government, to industry, to citizens’ community groups. During 2006-07, PARTNER continued to expand its research portfolio, added participating universities and advisory board members, and forged international collaborations. Harvard University’s School of Public Health and the University of North Carolina joined PARTNER.
Among major PARTNER projects are a landmark aviation and environment report to the U.S. Congress; testing alternate descent patterns to reduce aircraft landing noise, fuel consumption, and pollutant emissions; and development of simulations to assess policies, technologies and operational options for enabling environmentally responsible and economically viable air transportation growth.

MIT’s most prominent role within PARTNER is developing tools that provide rigorous guidance to policy-makers who must decide among alternatives for addressing aviation’s environmental impact. The MIT researchers collaborate with an international team in developing aircraft-level and aviation system level tools to assess the costs and benefits of different policies and R&D investment strategies.

Other PARTNER initiatives in which MIT participates include exploring mitigating aviation environmental impacts via the use of alternative fuels for aircraft; studies of aircraft particulate matter microphysics and chemistry; and a study of reducing vertical separations required between commercial aircraft, which may enhance operating efficiency by making available more fuel/time efficient flight levels, and enhancing air traffic control flexibility and airspace capacity.

Current PARTNER MIT personnel include Ian Waitz, who directs the organization, Karen Willcox, James Hileman, Christine Taylor, Karen Marais, Malcom Weiss, Stephen Connors, William Litant (communications director), Jennifer Leith (program coordinator) and 10-15 graduate students.

Visit The Partnership for AiR Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction at

The PARTNER research organization is an FAA Center of Excellence sponsored by the FAA, NASA, and Transport Canada. Other PARTNER aviation environmental impact projects are examining emissions, alternative fuels, and other noise issues.

Download PARTNER Low-Frequency Noise Report (.pdf 2.6M)

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