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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 18:04 GMT 19:04 UK
Joint quest for silent air travel
Airplane sign
Many people living near ever-busier airports are concerned about noise
Researchers in Britain and the US are joining forces to design a quiet aircraft.

The University of Cambridge and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have teamed up to work on the Silent Aircraft Initiative.

Professor Anne Dowling of Cambridge, one of the project's leaders, said the civil aviation industry was already working to limit aircraft noise.

"But we are aiming for a radical change in noise levels," she said.

"The main aim of the project is to reduce the disturbance from the noise of aircraft to people living near airports by reducing the noise to the level in a typical urban environment."

Other concerns

The project cites noise as a major reason for opposition to the building of new airports and to runway expansion at places like Stansted in Essex or Heathrow.

Professor Dowling said they expected to develop designs that demonstrate the feasibility of a silent aircraft over the next two-and-a-half years.

The initiative has been developed and partially funded through the Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI).

Organisations involved in the Silent Aircraft Initiative include engine makers Rolls-Royce, the Civil Aviation Authority, National Air Traffic Services and British Airways.

Iain Young, chief test pilot for Marshall Aerospace of Cambridge, which is also supporting the project, said: "A reduction in aircraft noise would make a significant contribution to the development of regional airports through reducing the noise impact on local communities."

However, although Stop Stansted Expansion and other groups opposed to airport growth have said noise is a concern, it is far from the only one.

Campaigners also worry about traffic-clogged roads and the loss of greenbelt land and homes to build more runways.

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