The Noise-Friendly EC130

As part of the European program, Eurocopter conducted a major test campaign in September at La Fare-les-Oliviers to measure the noise levels of the EC130.


© Eurocopter/Raz

The goal of the test campaign was to acquire data on the radiated noise generated by the EC130 during complete landing and takeoff operations. The tests were performed by teams from Eurocopter and Airbus, who shared their respective acoustic measuring equipment. The data was gathered via an array of 36 microphones installed over a 900x900 meter area for the variable flight phases, and by a transverse line of 11 microphones for the stabilized flight phases.

The entire certified flight envelope of the helicopter was examined for hover flight conditions, and certain forward flight phases (initiation of takeoff, end of landing, descent, climb, turns, decelerated descents) were also tested. “We used the most modern equipment available for the test campaign,” said Henri-James Marze, the senior acoustics specialist. “It has been certified by the EASA(1), FAA(2) and the DGAC(3). We processed the signals at 1/3 an octave on each test beacon, and the data was transmitted in real-time to a specialized acoustics PC(4). The computer recorded the entire duration of the 1/3 octave spectra in real time, made corrections to them, and calculated the associated noise levels.”

Approximately twenty hours of flight were logged for the tests. The results obtained will be used to establish the noise footprints perceived on the ground when the EC130 is in a variety of flight conditions – in particular, operating conditions that produce less noise. The end goal is to indicate the helicopter’s operational noise impact to international and local authorities, as well as to environmental organizations.

A full database will also be sent to research centers participating in the Friendcopter project, so that the acoustic radiation of the helicopter can be analyzed and representative noise models can be constructed. This information will be a key factor in studies performed prior to the opening of new heliports and helipads to decide whether or not the environmental impact is acceptable for local residents.
Similar measurements are being made by Eurocopter and the DLR(5) in Germany on the EC135 and in Italy on the A109, with Agusta acting as prime contractor.

Monique Colonges

(1) European Aviation Safety Agency
(2) Federal Aviation Administration
(3) Civil Aviation General Directorate
(4) Micro-computer
(5) Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt


FRIENDCOPTER

This project is part of the 6th European master program for the integration of new technology to make helicopter transport environmentally friendly. It groups together a consortium of 34 European companies and counts manufacturers, research institutes, and universities among its ranks.
The project has four primary goals:
- reduce the noise footprint of helicopters by 30 to 50%, depending on flight conditions;
- reduce fuel consumption by 6% for high-speed cruise flights;
- reduce the noise levels in the cabin to less than 75 dB, in accordance with commercial aircraft at cruising speeds;
- reduce vibration levels in the cabin to less than 0.05 g, corresponding to the comfort levels of airplanes.