Airplane Noise Sucks. Here’s How It can Improve


Airplane Noise Sucks. Here’s How It can Improve: a blog about airplane noise and how it can become more bearable.

Airplane Noise Sucks. Here’s How It can Improve: a blog about airplane noise and how it can become more bearable.

Airplane Noise Sucks. Here’s How It can Improve: a blog about airplane noise and how it can become more bearable.

Airplane Noise Sucks. Here’s How It can Improve: a blog about airplane noise and how it can become more bearable.

This is the first blog post on Airplane Noise Sucks. This blog will be about airplane noise and how it can become more bearable.

Airplane noise sucks. It’s boring because it’s very repetitive, and always in the same place (if you live near an airport). It’s also annoying, because it gets in the way of conversation, or just general concentration on something that isn’t airplane noise. And finally it’s frightening, because it sounds like a bomb going off next to your house.

(People who don’t live near an airport may not realize what a big deal this is. But if they did, they’d probably be pretty pissed.)

There are a lot of things that could be done to mitigate airplane noise: fly higher, fly slower, fly further away from cities. But most of them are hard to do or expensive. The only one that’s easy is: make the sound quieter. And that you can do in software

Airplane noise sucks. It’s a fact of life, and it sucks. But we’re stuck with it, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Or is there?

The fact is that airplane noise doesn’t have to suck quite as bad as it does today. With some simple equipment changes and new flight procedures, airlines could make airplane noise suck way less than it does now.

Here are just a few ways in which airplane noise can be made more bearable:

Airlines can install quieter engines on their planes.

They can make their planes fly higher over residential areas at night.

And they could take other steps to reduce the volume of their airplanes’ noise.

There is a lot about the airplane experience that sucks. But for me, at least, one of the things that has sucked most about airplanes is not being able to hear the in-flight movie.

In a quiet room, I have normal hearing. But if there is more than a little background noise, it becomes very hard for me to make out what anyone is saying, even if they are only 5 feet away. I’ve been able to put up with this to some extent on buses and trains and in restaurants and bars. But on airplanes I usually end up giving up on hearing the movie, because no matter how high I turn up the volume, I can’t understand what anyone is saying.

Noise-canceling headphones work pretty well at blocking out other sounds in the airplane cabin – but not well enough for me to hear what people are saying onscreen. I’ve tried turning them up as loud as possible, but all I get from that is distortion and a ringing in my ears when I take them off after the plane lands.

I’m sure most other passengers aren’t affected quite as badly as I am. But it’s no surprise that people don’t like watching movies on planes: according to a 2006 study by Boeing [PDF], only 6

What is it about airplane noise? It’s loud, unpleasant, and can be damaging to the hearing. But there are plenty of other sources of annoying noise: lawn mowers, leaf blowers, cars, motorcycles, concert speakers… Why do we put up with these other noises, but not airplane noise?

Part of the reason for this could be that on the ground our brains compensate for many types of sounds. Even in a busy city filled with traffic noise and construction work, we have the ability to tune out most of it. Our brains have evolved to filter out certain types of sounds so that we can focus on what concerns us. But when those same sounds are flying above our heads instead of just around us, we can’t tune them out anymore.

Another reason for the discomfort is that airplanes fly directly over us instead of around us like car traffic does. This means that the sound waves from an airplane aren’t traveling at an angle away from us like road noise or even a lawn mower next door; they are flying right at us all at once.

Add to this the fact that airplane noise often lasts longer than other sounds (like a motorcycle revving or a lawnmower). And if you live near an airport this could happen several times an hour

In a study conducted by the University of Cambridge and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists found that aircraft noise can affect cognition in children, presumably because it disrupts their sleep. The study looked at the performance of nearly 5,000 children from schools near Heathrow Airport and compared it to a group of kids from areas with less noise exposure.

“The results are consistent with the idea that aircraft noise exposure at home has adverse cognitive effects on children,” said Anna Hansell, lead author on the study. “This is important for public health and for policy because we now better understand what effects extra-high levels of noise can have on our health.”

The research comes as Heathrow Airport is looking to expand its runways. As London Mayor Sadiq Khan noted, “We must ensure that our children are not exposed to levels of aircraft noise that damage their education.”

On a recent flight to Cancun, I had the pleasure of sitting in my usual seat: the last row. The flight was full, so I didn’t have the option to relocate. If you’ve ever been to this glorious spot in the back of an airplane, you know that it’s less than ideal. The seats don’t recline and we get stuck with the lavatory view. A stench is emanating from the bathroom, but what else is new?

The flight attendant comes by and asks if I want dinner. She offers me chicken or pasta — but then adds, “I wouldn’t eat either one of them.” Yes, she was right; both options were dry and flavorless. But I was hungry, so I forced myself to take a few bites.

My eyes wandered over to the woman sitting next to me as she excitedly ate her dinner roll. She devoured half of it before getting up from her seat and disappearing behind the curtain into first class. I turned my head in confusion, wondering where she went — until she came back a minute later with another dinner roll.

She casually took her seat again and started eating out of her second dinner roll wrapper. A big smile appeared on her face as she told me about how much


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