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Chennai students idea may make aircraft noiseless

Posted by Admin on 6/10/2013
CHENNAI: An idea floated by three Chennai students could give birth to the world's quietest airline in the near future.

Charles Champion, the top engineering man in the world's leading aircraft  manufacturing company Airbus has said that an ambitious plan to create the aircraft of the future with zero propulsion noise by three aerospace engineering students from Chennai "makes sense" and is being looked at by the company "as a key idea to develop".

The team from SRM University Chennai consisting of Balakrishnan Solaraju Murali, Michael Thomas and Anita Mohil, is among the only five teams that has made it to the final of the "Fly Your Ideas" competition that saw 6,000 students in 618 teams from 82 countries vie for the 30,000 euro top prize.

The Indian team's top line idea is called "Engine air cooling system for noise reduction".

The trio have found a way to reduce propulsion noise by modifying the shape of the jet exhaust using intelligent materials (shape memory alloys).

These alloys are powered by harvested electricity generated by advanced thermoelectric materials using engine heat source.

Speaking to TOI from France, Champion who is the executive president (engineering) at Airbus said "noise of an airline is a real bother. Historically there has been a 75% noise reduction of airlines in the last 50 years. It has become a serious issue. Noise of aeroplanes now decide whether airlines can fly to European or British airports or not".

"The idea by the Chennai students to use the heat from the engine of the airline as a source of energy that will generate electricity that will help change the shape of the exhaust thereby reducing noise dramatically is a brilliant idea. But it will now go through several rounds till it reaches the technology readiness level 6. This is when the company will decide to develop the idea as a product. It will take another 4 years before the concept can be implemented," Champion said.

All airlines are now having to prove minimum environmental impact to be able to land at airports in developed countries.

"External noise is a major component of aircraft design now. Around 20 years ago, we launched the A 737 which was the quietest of its time. Now after we launched A 380 recently, A 737 sounds noisy. Lowering noise will also lower fuel consumption. We are now working on the next generation of aircraft A 320 which is quieter than A 380 with 15% lesser fuel consumption," Champion said.

According to Champion, India is a great asset for engineering. "This competition is to get new ideas and trends from brilliant young engineers. The Indian team has a high chance to win," Champion added.

The competition has been floated by Airbus.

The other teams to make it to the final are from Australia, Brazil, Italy and Malaysia.

Ideas floated in the competition included planes powered by body heat, luggage floating on a bed of air or even an aircraft running on liquid methane.

The final hurdle will see students present their ideas to a jury of Airbus and industry experts at Airbus' headquarters in Toulouse on 12th June 2013. The winning team will receive the 30,000 euro prize with the runners up bagging 15,000 euros.

The winners will be announced at an exclusive ceremony at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris on 14th June 2013.

Aerospace engineers from across the world had to create the aircraft of the future covering one of six themes identified by Airbus as key 21st century challenges for a greener aviation industry.

These included addressing energy, efficiency, affordable and traffic growth, passenger experience and community friendliness.

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