Monday, March 4, 2024
HomeTechnologyHow The Airbus A380's Quietness Actually Made Sleeping Harder For Pilots

How The Airbus A380’s Quietness Actually Made Sleeping Harder For Pilots

The Airbus A380 is a great aircraft – one that pushes aviation technical achievements to another level. Unfortunately for the type, 4 engines have fallen out of favor, as has the hub and spoke operating model to some extent. However there’s another problem too. It’s just too quiet……. Not on the ground but for Pilots, Let’s explore this Problem ……..

The A380 is regarded as having the quietest cabin environment amongst modern widebody commercial aircraft. The website tinitustalk.com pulled research figures together for several widebody aircraft with the A380 coming in lowest at 69.5 db. The Boeing 787, for comparison, was quoted as 72.7 dB and the Airbus A350 at 74.9.

Internal noise is not something that is extensively measured or studied. External sound and the impact of noise pollution are usually more relevant. As any passenger knows, though, cabin noise is an important factor in flight – one that comes from a combination of engine noise and airflow. How much is transmitted into the cabin depends on both how much external noise is created, and the ability of the cabin to insulate. The distance and size involved with the Airbus A380 helps reduce this, as does Airbus’ cabin engineering and insulation.

Passengers may appreciate less noise. Pilots, however, have complained. It was widely reported in 2008 that Emirates pilots found it difficult to sleep during crew rest periods onboard the aircraft. They claimed that the aircraft was so quiet that they could hear passengers (and crying children in particular) and flushing toilets throughout the flight.

As reported by FlightGlobal, Emirates senior vice-president, fleet Captain Ed Davidson explained : “On our other aircraft, the engines drown out the cabin noise. {On the A380} the pilots sleep with earplug but the cabin noise goes straight through them.”

With such a large A380 fleet, the problem has, of course, been more serious for Emirates. The airline also installs its cockpit crew rest area in a different location from other airlines. Airbus typically places the crew area at the front of the aircraft, right behind the cockpit, to maximize the space for first Class seating however, Emirates opted to move the crew area to the rear of the aircraft. This place is closer to the noise from the economy cabin. It also, as Captain Ed Davidson also reported, adds to the distraction with passengers mistaking the door for a toilet.

In 2008, Emirates asked Airbus for a solution to the noise problem. One solution would be to insulate the crew area further. Airbus, however, was not keen to do this. According to reporting by Wired, doing so would increase the overall aircraft weight. The most practical solution is the installation of low-level white noise generators – but it’s not clear, however, if Airbus & Emirates have done this.

Have you flown on the Airbus A380 ? How do you think the cabin noise compares to that on other aircraft ? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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