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Engineering and the Environment

Aircraft Noise and Aeroacoustics

Aeroacoustics is the study of sound generated by fluid flows, or the interaction of fluid flows with solid boundaries. Aerodynamically generated sound is the major source of aircraft noise. Southampton University is home to two major research centres in aircraft noise, supported by Rolls-Royce and Airbus.


Transport noise is the principal source of environmental noise. The noise generated by air and surface transportation vehicles has for several decades been a major environmental issue, in particular for urban areas. Traffic and aircraft noise are major complaints when dealing with noise pollution. Adverse health and other effects caused by environmental noise include high-blood pressure, stress and insomnia. The increase in volume of road, rail and air traffic means that the overall community noise has not decreased, notwithstanding the advent of more advanced noise control technologies. Along with other environmental factors such as fuel consumption and emissions, reducing these environmental factors is a key element of research and development for future transportation solutions.

The jet engine is a major source of aircraft noise (This photograph is reproduced with the permission of Rolls-Royce plc, copyright © Rolls-Royce plc 2012)
Jet engine

In Europe, the challenges set by the ACARE (Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe) 2020 vision has goals which include a 50% reduction in the perceived aircraft noise levels by 2020 compared to the baseline level in 2000, alongside stringent reductions in carbon dioxide and NOX emissions from aircraft. In order to achieve these ambitious goals, intense research activity supported by a range of key stakeholders will be necessary to maintain the past rate of advances in aircraft noise control.    

Key sources of noise from a modern turbofan jet engine
Key sources of noise

Aircraft noise is dominated by aerodynamically generated sound. Southampton University is the UK's leading university for research in Aircraft Noise and Aeroacoustics. The University is home to two major research centres in Aircraft Noise, supported by Rolls-Royce and Airbus.

The Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Gas Turbine Noise (RR UTC) was founded in 1999, and is based at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research. Research at the RR UTC includes theoretical, computational and experimental studies of aircraft engine noise sources, and the development of robust noise prediction tools.

The Airbus Noise Technology Centre (ANTC) was founded in 2008. Research at the ANTC includes new technologies and state-of-the-art computational and experimental methods, applied principally to airframe noise components.  

Example of theoretical work for an advanced open rotor
Example of theoretical work
Example of computational work for aircraft landing gear noise
Example of computational work
Example of experimental work using flow visualisation.
Example of experimental work

Also at the University of Southampton we coordinate the United Kingdom X-Noise Network in Aeroacoustics, supported under the auspices of the European X-Noise project. X-Noise is a European collaborative network of industrial, university and research organisations working in the field of aircraft noise research. This group plays a major role in governing the future direction of all aspects of research on aviation noise in Europe.

The concentration of research activities in Aircraft Noise and Aeroacoustics at Southampton has led to the growth of vibrant teams of researchers working in aircraft noise at the University. We regularly have exciting PhD research opportunities for graduates to join our Aircraft Noise and Aeroacoustics research teams.   

Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Gas Turbine Noise
Airbus Noise Technology Centre
United Kingdom X-Noise Network in Aeroacoustics
Engineering and the Environment Graduate School PhD programme
The ISVR Advanced Course in Aeroacoustics


R.J. Mitchell wind tunnel

R.J. Mitchell wind tunnel

In addition to the large R.J. Mitchell wind tunnel, we also have two smaller wind tunnels, all of which can be used for measuring aerodynamic noise.

ISVR open-jet wind-tunnel

ISVR open jet wind tunnel

This is a low-turbulence, low-noise open-jet wind-tunnel facility housed in the ISVR anechoic chamber for the measurement of aerodynamic noise.

ISVR Doak high-pressure jet laborat

Doak high-pressure jet laboratory

The newly commissioned Doak-jet facility is a state-of-the-art facility for conducting laboratory scale jet-noise experiments, and has been used recently for a measurement program testing novel bleed valve designs.

High-performance computing

We have access to high-performance computing facilities within and outside the University. Also Southampton University hosts one of a total of nine worldwide Microsoft Institutes for High Performance Computing. 


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