Georgia Tech receives federal grant to study reducing plane noise

At the world’s busiest airport, more than 2,000 planes take off and touchdown every day.

"It’s very noisy," said Nikki Willis, who lives under the flight path.

Willis lives a few miles from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and she says the noise is constant.

"It sounds like a plane is landing in my living room," she said.

During a short interview, plane after plane lined up for landing.

"It’s very loud and even if you’re relaxing in your home, and you just want peace and quiet, you can’t have any," Willis said.

To try to change that, the FAA has awarded $19 million to universities across the country to look for ways to reduce plane noise. Georgia Tech was awarded nearly $1.5 million for several different projects.

"We’re doing a lot of studies with regards to new technologies and how new technologies can affect aircraft," said Dimitri Mavris, a professor at Georgia Tech’s Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering.

One of the things they are looking at is changing the location of engines. Mavris says bigger engines mean less noise, but there is only so much room below the wing. So, researchers are looking at mounting them on top instead. 

"If they’re mounted on the top, you also use the wing to shield the noise from the fan and other sources as they propagate to the ground," he said. "So, they bounce off, and they jumped in the atmosphere."

While any technological advances are years away, Willis says research investments like this are important to her. 

"If they’re not going to change the path, they can make the planes less noisy here and people can get some sleep around here," she said.

Mavris says research like this will take years before it can become a reality because safety is the major concern, and nobody wants to mess with designs that already work well.