Challenges and opportunities for low noise electric aircraft

Eric Greenwood, Kenneth S. Brentner, Robert F. Rau, Ze Feng Ted Gan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


A new class of electric aircraft is being developed to transport people and goods as a part of the urban and regional transportation infrastructure. To gain public acceptance of these operations, these aircraft need to be much quieter than conventional airplanes and helicopters. This article seeks to review and summarize the aeroacoustic research relevant to this new category of aircraft. First, a brief review of the history of electric aircraft is provided, with an emphasis on how these aircraft differ from conventional aircraft. Next, the physics of rotor noise generation are reviewed, and the noise sources most likely to be of concern for electric aircraft are highlighted. These are divided into deterministic and nondeterministic sources of noise. Deterministic noise is expected to be dominated by the unsteady loading noise caused by the aerodynamic interactions between components. Nondeterministic noise will be generated by the interaction of the rotor or propeller blades with turbulence from ingested wakes, the atmosphere, and self-generated in the boundary layer. The literature for these noise sources is reviewed with a focus on applicability to electric aircraft. Challenges faced by the aeroacoustician in understanding the noise generation of electric aircraft are then identified, as well as the new opportunities for the prediction and reduction of electric aircraft noise that may be enabled by advances in computational aeroacoustics, flight simulation, and autonomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Aeroacoustics
StatePublished - Sep 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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