Tech Briefs

Measurement of Model Noise in a Hard-Wall Wind Tunnel

Spurious noise is suppressed in processing of digitized microphone outputs.

Identification, analysis, and control of fluid mechanically generated sound from models of aircraft and automobiles in special low-noise, semi-anechoic wind tunnels are an important research endeavor. Such studies can also be done in aerodynamic wind tunnels that have hard walls if phased microphone arrays are used to focus on the noise source regions and reject unwanted reflections or background noise. Although it may be difficult to simulate the total flyover or drive-by noise in a closed wind tunnel, individual noise sources can be isolated and analyzed.

An acoustic and aerodynamic study was made of a 7-percent-scale aircraft model in a NASA Ames 7-by-10-ft (about 2-by-3-m) wind tunnel for the purpose of identifying and attenuating airframe noise sources. Simulated landing, takeoff, and approach configurations were evaluated at Mach 0.26. Using a phased microphone array mounted in the ceiling over the inverted model, various noise sources in the high lift system, landing gear, fins, and miscellaneous other components were located and compared for sound level and frequency at one flyover location. Numerous noise-alleviation devices and modifications of the model were evaluated. Simultaneously with acoustic measurements, aerodynamic forces were recorded to document aircraft conditions and any performance changes caused by geometric modifications.

Most modern microphone-array systems function in the frequency domain in the sense that spectra of the microphone outputs are computed, then operations are performed on the matrices of microphone-signal cross-spectra. The entire acoustic field at one station in such a system is acquired quickly and interrogated during post processing. Beam-forming algorithms are employed to scan a plane near the model surface and locate noise sources while rejecting most background noise and spurious reflections. In the case of the system used in this study, previous studies in the wind tunnel have identified noise sources up to 19 dB below the normal background noise of the wind tunnel. Theoretical predictions of array performance are used to minimize the width and the side lobes of the beam pattern of the microphone array for a given test arrangement.

ImageTo capture flyover noise of the inverted model, a 104-element microphone array in a 622-mm-diameter cluster was installed in a 19-mm-thick poly(methyl methacrylate) plate in the ceiling of the test section of the wind tunnel above the aircraft model (see Figure 1). The microphones were of the condenser type, and their diaphragms were mounted flush in the array plate, which was recessed 12.7 mm into the ceiling and covered by a porous aromatic polyamide cloth (not shown in the figure) to minimize boundary-layer noise. This design caused the level of flow noise to be much less than that of flush-mount designs. The drawback of this design was that the cloth attenuated sound somewhat and created acoustic resonances that could grow to several dB at a frequency of 10 kHz.