cabin noise: single piston, single turbine, or twin piston?

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It would be nice to have a reasonably priced airplane whose interior
was reasonably quiet. Earplugs and noise-cancelling headsets work
okay for me but, even with a custom foam warp, the dog doesn't seem
to like flying in the back of the DA40 (prodigiously noisy with the
vents open; prodigiously hot with the vents closed).

I would be interested to hear from more experienced pilots who can
give their subjective impressions of the relative interior noise
levels of (1) single-engine piston airplanes, (2) single-engine
turbine airplanes, (3) twin-engine piston airplanes.

-- Philip Greenspun, July 24, 2003


There is a very active private aviation discussion forum here where you might get some informed opinions on this. It is gently moderated and has an excellent s/n ratio. Obviously if you're trying to build an online community of your own then it won't be of much interest. Also, it is mainly frequented by UK pilots, though not exclusively obviously, so your other questions about trips to San Francisco etc. are unlikely to draw much response.

-- David Adams, August 1, 2003

I am the owner of a C-210 and for 13 years the friend of a german shepherd named Elke who died recently. I have an intercom in the 210 because on trips of any length or when talking extensively to ATC the cabin noise gets to be too much. Noise levels are fine with the headsets on, as is the audibility of ATC and up to six people in the plane. I have flown single engine turbines, they are much quieter, as is any pressurized plane, even a pressurized single. I used headsets there too but the difference is significant.

Twins are more noisy, unless they are pressurized.

Incidentally, when I took Elke on a long flight, I would stuff balls of cotton down into her ears--far down. She would ususally doze off in less than two minutes and wake up four hours later in Florida.

-- Mark Greenspun, August 9, 2003

I used to fly a pressurized Cessna 210. It is much quieter than non-pressurized aircraft. It is possible to carry on a normal conversation in the cockpit without raising your voice above the level you would use in a typical car. When using a set of Boise noise canceling headphones in this aircraft, I was unable to hear any engine noise at all. The first time I turned the noise-canceling switch on, I thought the engine has stopped. In this aircraft these headsets are not required.


-- Ray Maxwell, August 30, 2003

My '64 Beech Debonair was modified with a thicker windshield by D'Shannon. And the engine is the smaller, 225 HP, Continental IO-470-K.

These two facts contribute to a quieter, fuel-efficient single-engine piston airplane. However, I still use my Dave Clark noise-cancelling headphones as hearing aide insurance. My dog hasn't gone deaf yet.

-- Don Shade, October 4, 2003

Philip, supposedly rear-mounted engines produce far less cockpit noise. If you are not into home-built designs, then you might go for renting time or doing a partial ownership of a Adam Aircraft A500. This is a two engine inline design with one engine in front and one in back. Try running the front engine at minimum power and take most of the power from the back engine. There is of course the older Cessna Skymaster, but from what I have read the rear engine tends to overheat, so a strategy based on running the front engine lower power and the rear engine full power is probably not a good use of that design.

-- W Estes, February 8, 2004