28. February 2020
Quieter flight

DLR researchers measure the noise generated by the impingement of engine exhaust gases on landing flaps

Noise map superimposed on the experimental setup
Noise map superimposed on the experimental setup
Image 1/2, Credit: NWB/DLR

Noise map superimposed on the experimental setup

In a special test setup, a Counter-Rotating Ultra-high-bypass Fan (CRUF) engine simulator is installed in front of an aircraft wing with extended landing flaps in the DLR wind tunnel. When the engine simulator is started, the interaction between the engine and wing can be measured acoustically. The photo montage shows in colour where noise is generated by the engine and on the trailing edge of the wing.
Front view of the experimental setup
Front view of the experimental setup
Image 2/2, Credit: NWB

Front view of the experimental setup

The engine simulator and wing model were set up alongside a microphone array in the open test section of the Low-Speed Wind Tunnel in Braunschweig, which is operated by German-Dutch Wind Tunnels (DNW). Below the test section is the complex technical substructure. The engine requires not only inlets for electricity and an oil pump, but also a heating system to melt the ice particles that form when the cold compressed air is forced through the turbine blades.
  • The noise that emanates from the interaction of engine exhaust gases and landing flaps is clearly audible.
  • Wind tunnel measurements open up the possibility of predicting how large engines and wings can be configured so that they are more effective and quieter.
  • Focus: Aeronautics, aerodynamics

Engines and landing flaps are major sources of noise on any large aircraft. Using a special experimental setup, researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have now made it possible to measure the noise generated by the impingement of engine exhaust gases on the wing flaps. The engine exhaust was reproduced using a special engine simulator. DLR researchers tested the simulator in the measurement section of the Braunschweig low-speed wind tunnel. The simulator weighs approximately 40 kilograms and has a diameter of 30 centimetres and a power output of around 160 kilowatts. It is equipped with an oil pump, connections for computer data and a heating system. At 10,500 rotations per minute, with an exhaust velocity of 460 kilometres per hour and a visible condensation trail, it was used to simulate a landing approach during the test. In the test section, an aircraft wing was installed immediately behind the engine simulator. Coloured regions on the noise source maps clearly show that not only was the engine loud, but the landing flap of the DLR wind tunnel model was also emitting noise.

As the simulator – a Counter-Rotating Ultra-high-bypass Fan (CRUF) – started operating with cold compressed air at a pressure of 21 bar, the engine noise of around 60 decibels was distributed across the otherwise silent wind tunnel and was recorded by numerous microphones. At a realistic speed for a landing approach, the engine exhaust impinged on the extended wing flap, which projected directly behind the CRUF in the middle of the test section. The figures on the display immediately increased by several decibels – in the single-digit range, but with an increase in volume clearly audible to the ear. Even the increase to 63 decibels make it seem twice as loud in the wind tunnel.

Louder with interaction between exhaust flow and flap

"We have succeeded in acoustically measuring the interaction between the engine and the wing," says Fabian Lange of the DLR Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology. The fact that such a significant difference was identified makes this is an interesting outcome for the researchers, and one that will be used in further research into exhaust / flap interactions. "Now, we can filter individual sound sources from the ‘overall noise’ of the engine and trailing edge and study them separately from one another," explains Lange.

This measurement result was made possible by the special test setup. With its large diameter and bypass ratio, the CRUF engine is a pioneering development given the trend towards ever larger and more powerful engines for modern passenger aircraft. For the first time, this kind of realistic engine is running in a wind tunnel – and in combination with a swept-wing model. This will allow researchers – after evaluating the results – to predict how larger engines will affect aerodynamics and acoustics, and thus how large propulsion systems and wings can be configured to make them quieter and more effective.

At the same time, the measurement results that are the culmination of a long series of studies as part of the interdisciplinary DLR project KonTeKst (Konfigurationen und Technologien für das emissions- und lärmarme Kurzstreckenflugzeug; configurations and technologies for low-emission and low-noise short-haul aircraft) are being used in the development of new acoustic simulators for engines. In a follow-on project, the researchers are planning to develop an acoustic simulator that will be operated electrically, rather than with compressed air. This will then be used to investigate a complete half model of an Airbus A320 in the wind tunnel. The ultimate goal and vision of the researchers is to be able to measure the acoustic and aerodynamic properties of the aircraft as a whole in the wind tunnel, rather than just individual components.

  • Falk Dambowsky
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    Media Relations
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-3959
    Fax: +49 2203 601-3249
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
  • Yvonne Buchwald
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology
    Telephone: +49 531 295-3354

  • Christian Jente
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    DLR Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology
    Telephone: +49 531 295-2483
    Lilienthalplatz 7
    38108 Braunschweig

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