Music To Fliers' Ringing Ears

Ever find yourself shouting to be heard in a small plane?

Come again?


It certainly is. But Lord Corp. of Cary, N.C., has come up with a three-pronged system to mute it. One part of the NVX Active System is a $35,000 noise canceller, which monitors cabin noise and then generates a corresponding sound to offset it. The other two systems are vibration stiflers. One resides at the engine mount, the other in the plane's skin. They transmit vibration patterns to a computer, which in turn sends commands to small actuators. These are little machines that pulsate against the vibrations, virtually eliminating them, according to Lord.

In a demonstration on a turboprop, Lord says, interior cabin noise was reduced by 80%, or 14 decibels, and vibration levels were reduced by 87%, or 18 decibels. Lord is selling its engine vibration system to Cessna Aircraft Co. for installation in next year's Citation X business jet at an undisclosed cost. Stevens Aviation Inc. has contracted to retrofit at least 50 Beech Aircraft Corp. Beech King Air turboprops with the noise-cancellation systems, but not the vibration cancellers, at a cost of $35,000 to $45,000 per plane.

Now if they can just silence that guy in 7-D, who's going on and on about hard-disk drives...