One of Blighty's top aero engineers has tried to open up a debate on the conflict between quietness and greenness in the next generation of airliners. However, most of what he actually said has been obscured by a report stating that he is calling for the introduction of nuclear-powered airliners. Professor Ian Poll FRAeS is a …
Classic Lewis Page!
Pollution - whether it be noise, noxious gases, or CO2 is pollution and degrades the environment - to draw a distinction between anti-noise & anti-CO2 is artificial to say the least. Many, sane, people are concerned about both.
Everyone has the right to decent quality of life - 'But do they have the right to destroy the planet and/or the UK's energy security, economy etc purely for their own selfish comfort?' - you are acomplete arse!
And then there's the usual Lewis Page subtext - anyone standing in the way of technological advancement is somehow retarded, loopy, selfish or all three! What a cock! At least he hasn't had a chance to air his obsession with flying cars in the last couple of weeks!!
But what about nuclear-powered flying submarines?
After all, we've already got nuclear-powered subs, so surely strapping a pair of wings on shouldn't be too much of a stretch, particularly seeing as they've already got the mounting points organised for hydroplanes which themselves look rather like vestigial wings in much the same way that a whale's vestigial rear flipper looks rather a lot like a leg. Come on boffins!
"Much of the hatred directed against aviation in the UK is actually noise nimbyism, then, not any form of environmental concern."
Noise pollution is pollution just like any other. People exposed to high noise levels for extended periods suffer health problems just like you get from other sources of pollution.
You clearly don't live anywhere near the major Heathrow flight paths or are deaf.
A possible solution to the noise problem is to move domestic traffic onto a high speed train network. The only short to medium term solutions to the long haul/international problem are to move the airport away from dense urban areas or wait for the cost of fuel to fix the problem for you...
Apparently NIMBY is out and BANANA is in: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.
Glad to see you spoke to the Prof. himself to find out what he *really* thinks.
Anti-Noise Campaigners Are Not Alone
The technical detail of this story is interesting, but the human politics are not. Almost everybody on the planet is in favour of cutting carbon emissions* and saving the planet, as long as it doesn't effect them.
Sticking with aircraft how many people have you met who decry the air transport industry for the damage it does to the environment and while taking cheap charter flights for their holidays?
Although the whole argument is somewhat undermined by the fact that a fully loaded airliner will be using less fuel per mile per passenger than a large car carrying a full load of passengers.
*And damn all the other harmful emissions. How long will it be before somebody suggests the abolition of the catalytic converter to save fuel and reduce carbon emissions?
So it's the people living near Heathrow who want to be able to sleep or think or concentrate at work who are to blame for global warming caused by air pollution. Silly me, I'd thought for years it was folk using air travel to go places.
There again, making the locals _really_ antagonistic by deliberately increasing noise to ear-splitting levels might just be the way to close an major airport down. Perhaps there is a method in this madness after all.
What the article doesn't tell you about Nuclear RAM jets
I for one welcome retooling nuclear cruise missiles so absurdly and outrageously lethal that they make salted bombs look like a kindness:
"Meanwhile, at the Pentagon, Pluto's sponsors were having second thoughts about the project. Since the missile would be launched from U.S. territory and had to fly low over America's allies in order to avoid detection on its way to the Soviet Union, some military planners began to wonder if it might not be almost as much a threat to the allies. Even before it began dropping bombs on our enemies Pluto would have deafened, flattened, and irradiated our friends. The noise level on the ground as Pluto went by overhead was expected to be about 150 decibel."
Of course nuclear planes are possible, didn't they already have them on Thunderbirds ages ago (by the name of Fireflash, it would seem)?
Well, it's actually more likely than the report in Flight International this week and presumably elsewhere too (sorry no URLs yet but subscribers to Flight's "Breaking News" service will see it), that BAe Systems are looking at aircraft-mounted radar systems that can be used to knock out enemy craft by using the radar to transmit a virus and thus knock out the enemy aircraft's systems. Too many liquid lunches and Independence Day repeats maybe?
Have they lost thier minds?
Nuke powered planes? With the amount of planes that go down in a year the planet will be covered by nuclear waste if these idiots get their way. I just hope any sort of plans are allowed to go through public scrutiny before any of it gets made.
Planes aren't essential.
"In other words, being against airport noise is not the same as being green - quite the reverse - unless you also believe/accept that air travel should largely stop. (That means a return to the days when travel, other than to go to war or to migrate, was strictly for the rich.)"
It most certainly does not. "We can't get anywhere without aeroplanes!" is a huge fallacy.
There are certain types of trip for which air travel makes sense at present: the really long haul - anything that takes, say, four hours or more in a plane. Transatlantic or trans-Pacific, east coast to west coast in the States, stuff like that.
These, however, do not make up the majority of air travel.
I decided to apply myself and actually do some research for this post, instead of just pulling the numbers out of thin air in true journalistic fashion. According to the Department of Transport's helpfully detailed and freely available statistics (nice job, DoT), in 2006, total air passengers between the U.K. and the EU-15 - the long-standing group of E.U. states - were 108,534. More specifically, the most popular destinations were, in order of popularity: Spain, the Republic of Ireland, France, Germany, and Italy.
Total flights to the entire rest of the world - destinations which could reasonably be considered long haul, including the United States - were 49,938: less than half the number of flights to short haul destinations within Europe.
And that's just international flights. If we added domestic flights, the numbers would look even worse. Unfortunately I can't find the equivalent figures for domestic flights.
Still, even disregarding domestic flights, at least two thirds of air travel to or from the U.K. is unnecessary. It is simply not true to say that air travel is the only affordable method of transportation within Europe. It is entirely within the capabilities of the E.U. to build a comprehensive, continent-wide high speed rail transport network. Even with current technology, you could do it so that most journeys would be possible within eight hours or so; with perfectly feasible upgrades to existing trains, this could be cut to five. This would bring a huge amount of benefits over air travel.
It is vastly more energy efficient (and hence environmentally friendly). According to Climate Action Network (not an entirely unbiased source, I admit, but they're not inherently biased in favour of any particular mode of transportation, just in favour of *energy efficient* transportation...), trains are around two to three times as energy efficient as planes. That's not some piddling little 20% improvement, as is always touted by 'environmentally friendly' planes: it's massively higher. We could save far, far more energy by simply using trains for travel within Europe than we could possibly save by trying to make planes more efficient.
It's a much less intrusive method of transportation. As the article discusses, plane noise is a huge problem for people unfortunate enough to live near airports. Airports themselves are awkward beasts which need to be sited close to major destinations but are too big to fit within them, forcing the development of ancillary transport networks (usually clogged-up roads) between the actual destination and the airport. By contrast, trains make very little noise, and stations can comfortably be sited at the actual destination, as with the existing Eurostar and TGV networks, saving time and effort on the part of the traveller.
Finally, it's a much more pleasant method of transportation. I hardly know anyone who enjoys flying. The ratio of plane size/weight to passengers carried being absolutely critical to the bottom line, you get crammed in like sardines. It's noisy. For most of the time on most flights, there's nothing to look at. There's no form of amusement or amenity on board. It's just an unpleasant experience all round.
Compare train travel. Size and weight aren't so important for trains, so operators can afford to give everyone a lot more leg room. The environment inside a modern high-speed train is quiet and relaxing. You get fresh air. You can look out the window and actually *see* stuff. You can go buy something to eat from the buffet car. Train travel can be a rewarding experience in itself; it's certainly not unpleasant, in the majority of cases.
It's time for the "we need planes to get anywhere!" fallacy to end. It is perfectly feasible with modern technology for the vast majority of medium-distance - up to 1000km - travel over land to be done by rail. This would be better for the economy, the environment, the general population, and the travellers. There's absolutely no excuse not to do it. Fortunately, anyone who's seen the terminal at St. Pancras - it's about ten times bigger than it needs to be to cope with the current volume of traffic - can see that at least some people are planning along these lines.
You pose a strange arguement
The article says: "we should tell people living near Heathrow to shut up and accept more noise. That's not something they're going to want to hear, of course. But do they have the right to destroy the planet and/or the UK's energy security, economy etc purely for their own selfish comfort?"
This is a bit of a flawed argument surely? Do people flying in less polluting planes have the right to pollute when it's at a slightly lower level? Most flights are leisure based and therefore unnecessary, I'm pretty sure expose to noise is pretty unhealthy and therefore it needs to be limited. It's a basic human right to have minimum environmental standards that ensure one's wellbeing and I'm pretty sure that noise is covered under this. Therefore you advocate committing one environmental crime in order to offset the other, both of which are based on an activety that is for the most part unnecessary. Therefore, surely it's the responsibility of the individual to either limit their own carbon footprint and not fly unnecessarily or for the government to regulate to encourage this behaviour. I don't think it's for the individual on the ground to 'shut up' and have their health damaged because increasing numbers of people want a long weekend in Valencia 12 times a year.
What we should probably aim for is to bring in these noiser but less polluting planes and at the same time reduce the number of flights in and out of somewhere like Heathrow by ensuring that most of the travel is essential or business related. Another option of course is to build a new airport, with these aircraft in mind, in an area where noise pollution does not damage people's health. The third option would be to have about 6 or 7 runways so you can disperse the noise over a wider area.
He's no fun any more
It may be possible for a nuclear aircraft to crash without harming the environment any more than the impact of any 2,000-tonne or heavier aircraft, without fuel, would do.
2,000-tonne? Maybe it could be as light as 1,500 tonnes if it's three or four reactors, with three or four no-fooling radiation shields, and hardly anything else. These shields would be like solid 12-foot balls of iron, except about twice heavier, because they'd be made of tungsten, with a cramped reactor compartment in the middle. They would bury themselves deeply in anything they were dropped on. That's not necessarily helpful, nor a hindrance, to their preventing radiation leakage; it's just the way it is.
Some high-temperature coolant, maybe lead or maybe heavy B2O3, would penetrate the thick heavy metal walls and come out again and have its heat transferred to air. The post-shutdown heat could be taken up in boiling the coolant that was inside at the time of a crash. It could work.
--- G.R.L. Cowan, H2 energy fan 'til ~1996
Ok, I'll bite...
"In other words, being against airport noise is not the same as being green - quite the reverse - unless you also believe/accept that air travel should largely stop. (That means a return to the days when travel, other than to go to war or to migrate, was strictly for the rich.)"
The campaigns against airport noise have always been about noise, nothing to do with being 'green'. It is the media (and a few misguided individuals) that paint local noise and global environmental damage as the same cause.
Also, most campaigns against aviation in general are against EXPANSION and not calling for a halt. This would be nothing like a return to air travel for the military and rich only. And maybe, if no new slots were available, air fares would find a level where airlines can operate without subsidy and dipping in and out of chapter 11.
As for nuke planes, ignoring the (currently) insurmountable safety issues for mass transit, the way things are going we may run out of uranium before oil...
noise/efficiency trade off
The trade off between noise and engine efficiency only applies to the open rotor engine. A really efficient engine would, by definition, make little noise, because noise is an unwanted form of energy output.
And yes, air travel should largely stop. If only so there's less chavs shagging in public in muslim countries and being assholes across european holiday destinations.
A number of other points about the article have already been put much better than I could by others above.
And they say the ground base ones are
a terrorists dream target - imagine how much damage a pigeon could cause to a nuclear powered jet slightly redirectedfrom heathrow to crash in central london.
It could cause the collapse of the market and...
now that would benefit us all.
I'll take two and few flying lessons and a satnav that I can plug into my Ipod
People living near Heathrow
Probably shouldn't be surprised by the noise, I mean the airports been there for 60 odd years. There's a reason the houses are cheaper than elsewhere in London and I'm guessing it does something for the local economy too.
And I live by an air base so I am aware of how noisy it can be, I'm just not surprised by it as it's been here much longer than I have.
Engines over wings
I seem to remember, a while back, people looking into sticking the engines above the wings rather than below them, so that the wings deflected most of the noise away from the ground. It obviously doesn't help much for take-off, and the passengers would need their headphones up-rated (seriously, why can't any airlines get headphones that work properly and use connectors that don't end up needing pressure on the jack to make them connect?) because the wings wouldn't be shielding the noise from *them*, but I've not seen any recent attempts at the concept.
Anyone know whether it just doesn't work aerodynamically, whether it's outweighed by the cabins being noisy, whether it's too much of a pain for engine maintenance, or whether there's some reason it's disappered?
Black helicopter, because they can go anywhere on a single tank of fuel and have stealth mode.
...that the Times totally ignored the main point and focused on the nuclear bit. As with the Daily Wail, they sell papers by getting the readers all worked up about things that are often totally irrelevant.
And a comment for Gareth Jones - several companies were making good progress on lean-burn engines until vested interests got the EU to specify that only catalytic converters with their inherent inefficiencies and use of rare metals were allowed on petrol vehicles. Perhaps they should rethink that and encourage engines that burn less fuel. It's the same in California - they've got very stringent emissions regulations but what you have to do to the engine to achieve it means you burn twice as much fuel per mile.
numbers, numbers, numbers....
What we are missing is the noise penalty on those new-fangled engines. Is is a 3dB increase? 10db? What about the fuel gains? Who knows, it's not quantified in the article. Silly me, I thought we were a tech audience.
The author is right to point out that there are trade offs between pollution types/environmental concerns. In this case, noise vs. CO2. Another case would be nuclear reactor wastes + risks vs. CO2 savings from nuclear power. Yet another are some GMO crops vs. their reduced need for pesticides and higher yields.
"Everything is pollution" is true, but some forms of pollution are more of an issue than others, making that a rather specious argument. I'd say right now it's CO2, CO2 and ... CO2.
As the planet heats up slowly, I expect we'll see more and more of these tradeoffs being exposed. With some lots and lots of NIMBY and greentard posturing as well.
In this case though, I'd say the author fails to make a point against the folks living near Heathrow. Surely a little less flying by everyone is a more relevant approach? In fact, I thought his post was actually a bit tongue in cheek ("make them all deaf, it'll save the planet").
Now, if he had posted his numbers, I might feel differently.
@ Gareth, "Almost everybody on the planet is in favour of cutting carbon emissions* and saving the planet, as long as it doesn't effect them." : You nailed it!
Article is wrong on some points
Open rotor (which most people call turboprop) HAS made it into passenger airliners - Tu-114 is a good example. It dates from late 1950-es and was hellishly noisy even by the late 50-es standards. However, even with _THAT_ tech it delivered fuel efficiency that we are still barely able to match in the most modern jet engines. This is one of the reasons why the Russians still fly its military cousin - the Tu-95 Bear. It is cheaper to run than any jet, can stay aloft for longer and military never gave a damn about noise.
As I see it, noise is just as much a pollutant as smog. Smog hangs around and destroys lungs and wildlife. Noise goes away faster, yes, but still provably causes mental damage, as well as destroying wildlife. Any solution needs to consider all pollutants, including noise. If this means using fast, underground bullet trains then so be it. The startup costs would be huge, but the overall benefits might be worth it. Pity that our society does not reward forward thinking, only short term compromise.
Some NIMBYs create themselves.
I can't say I have much sympathy for a lot of NIMBYs. Since a good many of them deliberately chose to locate themselves in close proximity to the source of their ire. Price, convenience, a great view, the reasons why the do so are numerous. One thing though is almost universal, the "problem" they want fixed was there before they were.
Of course the developers should not have been permitted to develop that land in the first place, but since it was, and the people living there, chose to purchase/rent knowing exactly what was going on over their heads, their outcry should not be permitted to influence policy.
Noise or CO2
No, Boris, noise pollution is NOT pollution just like any other. Noise pollution is purely local, whereas CO2 emission affects the entire planet (if you believe in that sort of thing). Let me put this as simply as I can: if you find aircraft noise disturbing, DON'T BUY A HOUSE NEAR AN AIRPORT. Especially don't buy a house near an airport and then campaign to have the airport closed. And don't tell me that the number of flights has increased since the 80s - true, but the noise emitted by aircraft has reduced.
Lewis, please keep up the good fight, though you'll never convince those that do not want to listen (or to understand).
what a flipping winker
"But do they have the right to destroy the planet and/or the UK's energy security, economy etc purely for their own selfish comfort?"
i dunno - do people who want to burn carbon for two weeks arseing about in a foreign country have the right to destroy the planey purely for their own selfish comfort?
lets get this clear - the vast majority of flights are for "holidays in the sun" or short breaks. we are not talking about some kind of mass cultural exchange here. british people sod off to warmer climbs, mix only with english people, drink newcastle brown, eat burgers and chips and perhaps wander around some tourist trap or two, gawping at stuff and taking bad photos. tax that at 1000000%.
i rarely go abroad, but i've probably spent more time out the country than most people because i've gone there to work. instead of hanging about at the irish bar i've made friends with the locals and hung out with them - and acutally come to understand their way of life.
Loud (you ever live near one...you can hear them miles away).
Vibration (yes, in addition to loud).
Fuel (use a fair amount all by themselves and are really only efficient if fairly fully loaded).
Land (use vast swathes of land which has to be specially conditioned and treated)
Danger (to every other vehicle or animal which crosses their path).
New construction (many billions would be required to upgrade or build new track for high speed and facilities to support their access and traffic were they to replace planes).
Just give me a good old-fashioned locomotive that burns coal. At least it's easy on the eyes.
Think inside the box
How much does it cost to develop a magical silent light clean reliable aircraft engine that runs on sustainable fuel?
Back to the Future?
So the Mr. Fusion Energy Reactor is back on the drawing board? Shiver me flux capacitors, matey!
Pull your socks up
"Local campaigners and their insistence on noise curbs are actually damaging the planet already."
And there was me thinking it was the burning of vast volumes of hydrocarbons in the first place. You can't go on about the distinction between household electrical vs household total energy consumption on one hand and then say something like that on the other.
Not up to your usual standard Lewis, but still: I read the Times article and I can safely say I now know a lot more now than I did after reading that.
@The Mighty Spang
"lets get this clear - the vast majority of flights are for "holidays in the sun" or short breaks."
I'd be interested to hear your position on leisure time. I'll just bet that you favor more of it over less, and think that it should be a government-mandated requirement.
Except that you also think that people shouldn't travel anywhere. So apparently you'd favor lots of time off during which we'd all just stay home and watch TV...
@AC (overwing engines)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P6M_SeaMaster - I guess it's been done before...
Course, the noise for the human cargo might be a little excessive - but what's to stop designers moving the passengers below the wings with the luggage hold on top? Or even sticking the wings on the top... maybe just too unconventional for the people with the money to risk.
The oil won't run out ...
... before things change. People will ration other people more and more, by price or by little stamps, so that High-Priority government driving and flying will happen long after you and I will be cycling. Nuclear won't be there either to replace all that used-up oil, because we'll have used up enough of the uranium to get it rationed too.
I like Alan Williamson's letter best: decent trains running on (umm) something will be better use of any fuel than aeroplanes. Even though I'm not sure that he rides the same trains I do with narrow seats and widdly little tables that don't fit more than one laptop above or more than one set of 14" femurs below, his trains would turn into my kind once they became the medium-distance transport of choice/necessity because the operators would see to that.
Stop the world, I want to get off.
So how soon we forget that the Concord SST powered by four Bristol Siddley Olympus jet engines on full power with reheat take off , generated noise levels of well in excess of 137db at the airport boundary fence and a slower moving fully laden Boeing 747-100 peaked at around 128db at the same spot.
The biggest problem with the so called turbo props is the amount of waste energy generated noise by the blade tips vortex breaking the sound barrier , some have forgotten much about a Canadian Dehaviland design called the Dash-8 which was a very good cruising fuel miser by using very big slow turning props , great STOL and the boundary fence noise for the aircraft was far lower then most smaller gas turbine and petrol engined multi's or equivalent sized commercial jets , alas the plane was sold before it's time and due to low production eventually cancelled.
Now just think , if one fool were to invent a Star Trek matter transporter , think of all the problems that it would solve in one go , like fuel savings and direct transport to your destination hotel bathroom etc
Nuclear? How exactly can that replace jet engines?
Nuclear power works by generating vast amounts of heat. Submarines and power stations capture that heat to turn water into steam which which moves pistons which turn a shaft...
We would only be able to use nuclear power to either generate electricity onboard a plane or directly drive a rotor. Rotors (propellors) provide far less thrust than a jet engine and planes would fly a lot slower, about half their current speed. I won't even mention the weight of the equipment such a plane would be required to carry.
So unless anyone has any ideas about how a nuclear reactor can provide a type of energy that can power a type of engine anywhere near as powerful as a jet then please let us know.
Re: Engines Over Wings
The Antonov AN-72/74 had it's engines located on top of it's wings, in order to increase STOL performance, by means of the Coanda effect...
When they delevoped a civil version, the AN-148 for airline use, the found that putting the engines under the wings, made them easier to maintain, & also they found that the overall fuel consumption decreased by some 20% compared to the AN-72...
The Honda Business Jet, due to enter production next year, in the U.S does have it's engines over the wings, but given the "credit crunch", will it sell...?
I read these comments, and it occurs to me that most - if not all - of those who accuse others of being NIMBYs are themselves unlikely to be affected by this change. Big surprise there.
For the records, I bought a house under the flight-path of the local airport. It was a calculated decision where we stayed in the area for a while, listened to the noise the planes made (and the number of planes) and then went: "yes, it's a level we can live with". So I'm not in the brigade that calls the airport every time a plane goes over my house.
I do, however, find my ire go up when someone suggest that this means I have effectively agreed to allow the industry to *increase* the noise levels because it suits *them*.
Turnabout's fair play - before you tell people they should suck-it-up and take the noise increase, why not think about *your* reaction if the situation was turned about and you were told there would now be less but more expensive flights to deal with oil shortage / pollution?
Of course, the caveat is that unless you use aeroplanes (and want to increase noise to keep the flights) or live near a flight-path (and want to keep the noise levels the same at the cost of flights), then I'm afraid that your opinion on *this* pollution matter counts for little. Sorry, but true.
So, let me get this straight - you wish to argue that trains cause more noise problems than planes?
How many action groups have formed demanding King's Cross be shut down on noise grounds, then?
Yes, trains are fairly noisy on a scale of "absolute silence" to...well..."planes" (you know, the archetypal thing you put on the loudest end of any arbitrary noisiness scale). But they're a lot less noisy than planes.
Fuel? Er, I mentioned that directly. They're massively more energy-efficient - that means, fuel efficient - than planes. "Only really efficient if fully loaded" applies to any form of transportation, I don't quite see how it's relevant here. Are unloaded aeroplanes terribly fuel efficient, then?
Land, well, yes, they use a bit of land. More than planes for a comprehensive network, admittedly. But most of it is in less important locations - you need a lot more land in prime areas for airports than you do for train stations. And use of land doesn't seem to be stopping us building roads all over the damn place; the land use by a continental rail network would be far, far less than that used by roads.
Danger? Since the TGV started running in 1981, exactly two people have been killed in TGV-related incidents (both truck drivers who managed to get hit at level crossings). Since the Shinkansen services started in 1964, there has been a single fatality (apart from suicides), caused by a closing door on the train.
I'll take those odds over any other form of transportation except the elevator, thanks.
New construction? Yup. That's not always a bad thing, though. Capital investment in a beneficial cause is a great way to stimulate economies, after all. And the benefits are hard to argue. And, as I said, we seem to be happy to keep coming up with billions to build roads all over the bloody place.
" DON'T BUY A HOUSE NEAR AN AIRPORT."
So naive. We bought a house near work, so we don't have to commute too far.
When we bought it there was no air traffic over our house but one year later there was due to an increased number of planes and a spreading the noise action plan of the government.
I think this reaction is more demonstrative of the problem.
" I don't think it's for the individual on the ground to 'shut up' and have their health damaged because increasing numbers of people want a long weekend in Valencia 12 times a year."
There is a nice Fuel-Less Gravity Powered Airplane shown on you-tube
This probably won't make it to the comments section due to the link, but you guys have to check this out if you haven't yet seen it.
Considering everyone seems to be talking about a complete redesign, why not go all the way?
Hahahaha oh wow.
""Look at France," he said. "They have nuclear powered trains, don't they? It's an electric train, but almost all their electricity is nuclear. So in a sense, that's a nuclear train."
This is priceless. With the amount of failures we get on the rail network these days... When a train stops working on its tracks, it pisses off people because they'll be late. If a plane stops working in the air well... Passenger and metal jam.
Leccy plane anyone ?
Noise pollution can damage your health
So make ear plugs available on the national health for those living under flight paths or close to airports.
Much as I like railways, they are not in their current form the answer to replacing noisy or expensive aircraft. As some one pointed out it would take only eight hours (in a perfect railway system) to get to most of Europe but that is not the only consideration, time is money, all of the infrastructure around the railway system has to be maintained for the extra time the train is traveling, one example of added infrastructure requirements is that people have to eat more and evacuate more ( a two or three hour flight in Europe is not too bad but try not going to the loo on an eight hour journey) that alone creates a whole other problem , processing the railway equivalent of 108,000 flights worth of doo doo.
The answer to noise is not easy as making aeroplanes go requires moving lots of air or hot gas very fast towards the back of the plane (reaction mass), that makes noise and doing it quietly is very very difficult so until we can c ome up with an inertialess drive we are probably going to be stuck with aircraft noise to some degree.
Nuclear is really the answer,but preferably fusion as opposed to fission, that is an area that needs much more money going into research, it is the ultimate renewable resource. It would provide cheap power to use for the production of aircraft and other fuels and in spite of the knee jerk reactions from so many people who don't like the sound of the word nuclear it will eventually be the only solution.
Noisy = Greater Effiency
Seems to me to fly in the face of established first principles. Somewhere there will be a more elegant solution.
Which " whale's vestigial rear flipper"
Which sort of whale is that?
Noise pollution = local?
Well, it depends.
My office desk is about as adjacent to the Birmingham-Stratford railway line as you can get. There's no double glazing, in fact windows are often open. I wouldn't want to live there, but lots of people live within a few hundred yards of a railway and aren't seriously affected by noise, unless e.g. they're near to a station being threatened by trains full of drunken football supporters. The only time there's any noticeable vibration in the office are the lovely occasions when an old steam engine goes past; modern trains are all so light they aren't even heavy enough to squash the leaves off the line, so twice a day at this time of year we get the unusual sound of a mobile pressure washer going by...
From time to time I'm based a few dozen miles from Heathrow, and the aircraft noise there *is* definitely a problem, even though it's not what most people would consider "local" to Heathrow (West Berks is near Heathrow??). The aircraft noise comes from both commercial traffic, and from a***oles who think their recreational weekend flights in light aircraft, microlights, etc (not from Heathrow) override other folks entitlements to peace and quiet in rural areas. Indeed the light aircraft and microlights circling the area appear to be a serious threat to AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield's security from airborne terrorist attack. (There *is* a legal right not to be disturbed by aircraft, as the MoD/RAF found out in a court case a few years back, sorry can't remember details).
a cowling can be put around the 'open rotor' thus making it both quieter and more efficient?
or perhaps they can just make the jet engines a lot wider - this reduces noise and increases efficiency - at the expense of available acceleration admitedly.
I remember seeing an open rotor jet flying at Farnborough in the late 80's
this one I think ...
It sounded slightly different, but not noticeably louder.
Is it just me or did all civil engines sound different back then ?
Nuclear reactors are not suited to an aircraft that needs to carry people or take off and land more than a few times a year.
The reasons are based in science, not engineering, so I don't expect to see them flying around for a while.
Coat ... because I mentioned the S word.
How about ...
Build floating airports a few miles out to sea -- far enough away so the noise doesn't reach back inland -- and fly these new, noisier but more efficient planes from it.
Ban current planes flying over land altogether. Run a high speed rail link to the floating airport, or develop some super-quiet shuttle planes to provide the link to land.
Result: less noise pollution over land, and less chemical pollution over sea.
Vacating the inland airports could also make space to relocate houses away from major railways and roads, or to increase capacity ensure people can reach their departure point without needless pollution in traffic jams.
It will take a few years to achieve, but must surely be better than the present mindless building on every square inch of already-gridlocked towns.
Fallout is Neither
Local nor temporary, that is, said Arthur C. Clarke of the notion of putting nuclear reactors on airplanes.
As for the increased noise from open-rotor airplanes, clearly the airports will just have to be relocated further from population centers. However, how much carbon do airplanes contribute, compared to all the automobiles?
Still, noise may degrade the local environment, but it's a far less pressing concern than global warming which bids fair to flood many coastal cities, and in the meantime lead to the extinction of many endangered species and widespread famine in tropical areas. So it's not silly to say that there are environmental priorities. But airports - or residential neighborhoods - can be relocated.
Are we going to have to wait for Vatnajokull to melt before people believe global warmng is real?
@Planes aren't essential.
Nice article Mr. Adam Williamson, but a bt too much research for the reg if your writing on an enviromental topic. Also you didn't spend enough space bashing people who give shit about the enviroment, espcially scientists who do research in the area (as opposed who work in complete different fields but whose political view point you agree with). So I'm sorry your chances of getting ublished on this site outside the comments are pretty slim, but it was a good read anyways.
Noise is not the same as pollution
I think that pollution is stuff left over. Noise does not last. It radiates away and fades out.
CO2, CO, and all the other stuff that staysaround affects the environment. As soon as your ears have stopped ringing, the noise is over.
We need a better way to describe noise pollution.