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Transport, including aeronautics and space, sustainable development

Innovative transport initiatives cut through the din

Background description

Sound is an unavoidable by-product of human society. It becomes noise when it either exceeds acceptable levels or provides no perceived benefit. Noise pollution has long been and remains high on the list of public concerns about the environment. Its effects include simple annoyance, as we can all attest, but it may also lead to serious ailments such as insomnia, high blood pressure, heart disease, mental stress and hearing impairment. Noise pollution also represents a huge economic cost to societies, estimated at between 0.2% and 2% of gross domestic product – at least €18 billion per year in the EU. In today’s world, transport remains a major source of noise pollution, including both surface and air transport, but reducing transport noise is no simple task, are involves both technical and legal issues.

Profile

The EU currently supports a number of research initiatives aimed at reducing transport noise. The CALM network, for example, is working to link the latest noise abatement research to related EU regulations and policies. Launched in 2001, CALM has set out to establish and coordinate a ‘Community noise reduction strategy plan’. In 2002, CALM published a report entitled ‘Research for a Quieter Europe’, defining the steps necessary to reduce noise emissions in the EU, especially in the areas of air traffic, road and rail transport, marine technologies and outdoor equipment. The EU-funded QCITY (Quiet city transport) is a targeted project focusing on noise propagation and reception in urban areas. It aims to provide local communities with powerful tools for more effective policy-making on reducing the harmful effects of sound due to road and railway traffic. In the aeronautics sector, the SILENCER project, which involves some 50 European companies, universities and research institutes, is working to reduce jet engine noise while controlling equipment cost, weight and performance.

Full project title: Coordination of European research for advanced transport noise mitigation
Project acronym: CALM
Coordinator: Alfred Rust, AVL List, alfred.rust@avl.com
Website/
Full project title: Quiet city transport
Project acronym: QCITY
Coordinator: Nils Aake Nilsson, Acoustic Control Laboratories,
Full project title: Significantly lower community exposure to aircraft noise
Project acronym: SILENCER
Coordinator: Eugene Kors, Snecma

Science in society significance

The benefits to citizens of a quiet and peaceful environment are crystal clear. A good balance of research and regulation on noise is seen as essential to maintaining the health, well-being and quality of life of all Europeans and, hence, for continued and sustainable economic development. From the 1970s to the 1990s, European attempts to limit transport noise focused on fixing maximum sound levels for road, rail and air-borne vehicles, and impact assessments show that noise from individual vehicles has indeed been reduced considerably. Today, the EU believes that decisions on how to further mitigate noise pollution should be made in close collaboration with all stakeholders, including the general public. After all, making Europe a quieter place is good for everyone, a key to prosperity now and in the future.

Results/outcomes

CALM:

  • Learning more about the affects of noise generated by transport and outdoor equipment in the expanded Union, taking into consideration the new Member States;
  • Better coordination of European and national activities, including the research advisory council and stakeholders from industry, academia, advocate groups and EU citizens.

QCITY:

  • Providing local communities with powerful tools for more effective policy-making on reducing transport noise;
  • A broad catalogue of experimentally validated technical solutions addressing the cartography of noise, as envisaged by the EU’s noise Directive.

SILENCER:

  • Reduction of aircraft noise by as much as 6 decibels by 2008;
  • A range of new engine technologies, from low-noise fans to nozzle jet-noise suppressors;
  • Modifications to aircraft parts, including wings and landing gear, aimed at reducing their

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