"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Monday, May 25, 2009

If One Noise Is Bad, Can Two Noises be Better?

Alaska Airlines dropped me off in Walla Walla, Washington, for only twenty-five thousand frequent flier miles and ten bucks, including return passage. We made a stop in Seattle to downsize from a Boeing 737 to a Bombardier Q400 for the one hour cross-state hop. Something was tickling my memory about Bombardier 400s. I kept picturing a stormy night three months ago in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, and a scene of fire and unspeakable tragedy.

Other than a few bumps while climbing through the clouds above Seattle, Horizon Air delivered me safely to Walla Walla, which lies near the Oregon border in southeastern Washington state. The in-flight info in the seat pocket had information on all the benefits of Horizon switching its fleet to these turboprop aircraft, including substantially less fuel consumption and a “revolutionary Noise and Vibration Suppression (NVS) system, which makes this aircraft the quietest, most vibration-free turboprop in the sky.”

Coulda fooled me.

If I’m interpreting the data correctly, the pressure pulses from the spinning props pound against the fuselage, causing noise and vibration. Concealed microphones send noise info to the onboard computer, which sends the info on to another system called Active Tuned Vibration Absorbers. Then those critters produce their own counter-vibrations, theoretically canceling out the original vibrations, hence quieter airplanes.

Well, either somebody forgot to put a microphone in the fuselage above my seat, or forgot to fasten something down, because not too long into the flight I got out a pair of bright red soft foam earplugs and stuck them in my ears.

In all fairness, I have to admit my flight back to Seattle a few days later, at god-awful-thirty in the morning, was a lot quieter. So a word to Horizon air: you’ve got a rogue airplane out there, the one that flew flight 2086 on May 4.

1 comment:

  1. I think it'd be interesting if you mailed a copy of this to Horizon Air. Who knows what might come of it.
    So much for revolutionary systems, huh?
    A rogue writer aboard a rogue airplane, sounds like a dangerous situation to me, so glad you landed safely.