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Boeing Joins CMI's Silent Aircraft Initiative

  • Friday, 3rd September 2004
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Boeing has formally entered into a collaboration with the Cambridge-MIT Institute’s ‘Silent’ Aircraft Initiative.

This is a three-year project, sponsored by the Cambridge-MIT Institute, aimed at a new generation of quiet aircraft.

Under a recently signed memorandum of understanding, Boeing will allow the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to use some of its advanced design software to design and analyse aircraft that are being considered as conceptual design candidates.

The software uses a state of the art, multidisciplinary design optimisation framework that considers aerodynamic, structural, stability, control, and mission performance factors. Noise prediction models will be added to this, to aid in the design of the ‘Silent’ Aircraft.

The Cambridge-MIT Institute’s ‘Silent’ Aircraft Initiative was launched in November 2003 with a bold aim: to discover ways to reduce aircraft noise dramatically, to the point where it would be virtually unnoticeable to people outside the airport perimeter. The initiative is bringing together leading academics from Cambridge University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with an extended ‘Knowlege Integration Community’ of representatives from all parts of the civil aerospace/aviation industry. They include BAA, Boeing, British Airways, the Civil Aviation Authority, Lochard, Marshall Aerospace, National Air Traffic Services, the Royal Aeronautical Society, and Rolls-Royce.

Members of the ‘Silent’ Aircraft Community are working together, sharing knowledge and developing the design for an aircraft that has noise reduction as its primary consideration.

In addition to the design software, Boeing will also provide technical consultation services to the ‘Silent’ Aircraft Initiative’s integrated team of researchers at both MIT and Cambridge. Providing consultation will be Dr Robert Liebeck, head of an advanced Transports and Tankers design group in the Boeing Phantom Works advanced research and development (R&D) unit. Dr Liebeck, who is also a Professor of the Practice at MIT, will be working with Karen Willcox, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. Prof Willcox leads the Integration research work within the ‘Silent’ Aircraft Initiative and worked briefly with Dr Liebeck at Boeing before she joined the MIT faculty.

Prof Ed Greitzer, who is leading the ‘Silent’ Aircraft research team at MIT, says: “”The connection with Boeing presents several excellent opportunities for the ‘Silent’ Aircraft project. These include the ability to draw on Boeing design knowledge acquired over many years, and to have students and faculty use industry-level tools for the conceptual design and analysis of innovative aircraft that are designed with noise as the primary consideration.””

Dr Robert Liebeck says: “”This is an ideal opportunity to examine the upper bound of silence for a next-generation of subsonic transport, and the cost/benefit of achieving said silence.””

The Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI) is a pioneering partnership between two world-class institutions: the University of Cambridge in the UK and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. Established in July 2000, it receives funding from the UK government and industry partners to carry out education and research to enhance the competitiveness, productivity and entrepreneurship of the UK economy. CMI is currently setting up a series of Knowledge Integration Communities to help enhance knowledge exchange between academia and industry, and push forward research and increase the pace of innovation in areas where the UK has a strong competitive position — like aerospace.


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