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Optimization of structural countermeasures for noise

attenuation in aircraft cabins


Alejandro Bonillo Coll1
Universitat Politcnica de Catalunya (UPC-BarcelonaTech), 08034 Barcelona, Spain

A simulation methodology is proposed for the optimization of structural


countermeasures to be integrated in the airframe of typical turbopropeller aircraft
with the objective of providing significant cabin noise attenuation levels in the lowand mid-frequency range. A number of available countermeasures is considered,
ranging from local structural modifications, i.e. local stiffening and punctual mass
addition, to single- and multiple-degree-of-freedom passive vibration control
devices such as dynamic vibration absorbers (DVAs). The optimization
methodology benefits from separate modeling of the primary structure, i.e. the
airframe, and structural countermeasures, thus allowing for the implementation of
mathematical optimization algorithms which yield optimum countermeasure
configurations at low computational cost.

Nomenclature
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=

speed of bending waves


bending stiffness
elastic modulus
frequency of oscillation
area moment of inertia
length
mass
viscous damping ratio
wavelength
surface density
angular frequency of oscillation
natural angular frequency

I. Introduction

IRCRAFT cabin noise or interior noise has been an active research field in structural dynamics and
acoustics for the past 60 years1. The aircraft interior noise problem is generally known as the
transmission of noise from aircraft sources, i.e. propulsion systems and turbulent boundary layers, into the
cabin through both airborne and structure-borne transmission paths.
The characterization of airborne noise sources varies notably with the type of aircraft which is subject
to study as well as with the operating regime of its power plant. Thus, multi-engine propeller-driven
aircraft, with maximum cruise speeds ranging from less than 240 km/h to about 450 km/h, present typical
tonal excitations related to the blade passing frequency (BPF) 2,3 in the frequency range between 100 Hz
and 250 Hz. The advent of the advanced turboprop, e.g. Airbus Military A400M, and open-rotor concepts
has added extra complexity to this problem due to the effects of transonic and supersonic helical tip
speeds4 and rotor-wake/rotor interaction effects in counter-rotating open rotor (CROR) systems5. Turbojet
and turbofan aircraft, typically with cased and wing-mounted engines, are found to be prone to jet noise,
which constitutes the dominant noise source under low-speed conditions such as those encountered in the
climb stage of the flight profile. Interior noise for turbojet and turbofan aircraft under cruise conditions is
generally dominated by boundary layer excitation of fuselage panels, although jet noise might also have
an influence as the distance between engines and fuselage decreases6. Fan noise is another typical
airborne noise source found in turbofan aircraft which presents significant contribution to interior noise
only at low flight speeds, e.g. during takeoff and initial climb 7, and is related to a tonal excitation at the
BPF of the fan.
1

PhD student, Department of Mechanical Engineering, ETSEIAT (UPC-BarcelonaTech), 08222


Terrassa, Barcelona, Spain. AIAA Young Professional Member.
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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Structure-borne noise is principally associated to engine vibration and propeller wake-wing


interaction. Engine-based structure-borne noise components are related to the BPF of rotational
machinery elements, with fan contribution usually being dominant. Therefore, in the case of propellerdriven aircraft, structure-borne noise might be superposed to airborne propeller noise sources at discrete
tonal frequencies. Results obtained for typical turboprop aircraft have shown that structure-borne
components usually fall between 10 dB and 20 dB below airborne components in terms of interior noise,
thus leaving structure-borne noise sources at a secondary role8-12.
Figure 1 provides a schematic representation of aircraft interior noise sources which are typically
found in turboprop and turbojet/turbofan aircraft.
The present study focuses on the interior noise problem identified in turbopropeller aircraft related to
BPF in the low-frequency range, i.e. up to 220 Hz. Cabin noise prediction and attenuation in
turbopropeller aircraft has been addressed in previous research and development work in collaboration
with EADS-CASA and Airbus Military14,15, which has arisen the need of taking a step further in
simulation methodologies for higher attenuation of
predicted and validated cabin noise levels.
A simulation methodology is presented for the
optimization
of
structural
countermeasures
implemented in aircraft fuselage sections with the
objective of providing outstanding attenuation of
interior noise levels predicted for turbopropeller
aircraft. The range of structural countermeasures
considered for application covers local modifications
in terms of stiffness and mass, as well as the
implementation of passive vibration control devices
such as tuned and detuned DVAs. Such proposed
countermeasures are selected as they are potentially
applicable to the development of a vibro-acoustic
solution kit which can be introduced in late stages of
aircraft design or even during its service life, thus
affecting at a much reduced scale the conventional
design process.
The optimization methodology is applied to a
Figure 1. Sources and transmission paths
generic fuselage section of a typical turbopropeller
of aircraft interior noise (picture taken
aircraft which defines an acoustic cavity referred as
from Ref. 13)
the generic aircraft cabin. The fuselage section
contains all primary structural elements, e.g. skin, frames, stringers, etc., and is henceforth referred as the
primary structure. At a secondary level, all structural countermeasures, e.g. stiffeners, local masses,
DVAs, etc., are referred as substructure or secondary structure. The optimization methodology is based
on separate modeling of the primary structure and the substructure. Firstly, the primary structure is
subject to conventional finite element modeling and vibro-acoustic simulation using currently available
commercial software packages such as MSC NASTRAN and LMS Virtual.Lab. The effects of
countermeasure elements are then applied to the primary structure using a method which computes
equivalent dynamic forces16 combined with frequency response functions (FRF) of the primary structure.
The use of structural coupling techniques allows for vibro-acoustic simulation of structural
countermeasure configurations at reasonably low computational cost, i.e. some milliseconds, using an
appropriate MATLAB routine, which does not require recalculation of the primary structure. Therefore,
simulation of multiple configurations within a reasonable period of time becomes possible, thus allowing
for efficient application of optimization algorithms. As a final result of the proposed optimization
methodology, an optimum configuration of structural countermeasures, which provides highest
achievable noise reduction levels, is obtained based on any number of initial considerations and
constrains related to the integration of such countermeasures in the airframe.
In section II the primary structure is defined in terms of geometry and mechanical properties. The
finite element model and the conventional methodology used for vibro-acoustic simulation are also
presented together with baseline results in terms of cabin noise. Section III deals with the description and
characterization of all structural countermeasures which are taken into consideration within the scope of
the present study. These are divided into two major groups: local structural modifications and passive
vibration control devices. Section IV constitutes a detailed mathematical approach to the structural
coupling technique used to integrate the structural countermeasures into the primary structure. Section V
is devoted to the formulation of the optimization algorithm which is implemented in combination with the

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mathematical model for structural coupling developed in section IV. Finally, all simulation results are
presented and compared in section VI, and conclusions are summarized in section VII.

II. Primary Structure


A. Definition
The primary structure used for the implementation of the proposed optimization methodology consists
of a generic fuselage section of a typical turbopropeller aircraft which integrates all primary constitutive
elements: skin, frames, stringers and floor panels. A schematic view of the proposed structure is presented
in figure 2.

Figure 2. Geometrical definition of the primary structure. Left: Complete model of a generic
turbopropeller aircraft. Right: Detail of a fuselage section.
With respect to materials definition for the fuselage structure, a generic 2024 aluminum-copper alloy
was used for the skin, frames and stringers, whereas floor panels were defined as a composite structure
constituted by an internal honeycomb layer covered by two external layers of the same aluminum-copper
alloy.
B. Finite element model
The primary structure is subject to conventional finite element (FE) modeling oriented to numerical
simulation using MSC NASTRAN. Only a representative range of fuselage sections were considered for
shell modeling in order to keep the FE model to a reasonable number of elements. The dynamic behavior
of the cockpit was represented by its global mass, whereas rear fuselage, wings and tail planes are
replaced by a fully clamped boundary condition along the perimeter of the fuselage. The overall mesh
size is set to a value which allows appropriate representation of the smallest wavelength scales expected
in the dynamic behavior of the primary structure. Using the standard criterion of six elements per
wavelength, the maximum frequency at which the FE model provides representative results is related to
the global element size, for thin-walled structures, through17
(1)
where
denotes the minimum wavelength which can be reproduced by the FE model, equal to six
times the highest element size, and
denotes the speed of wave propagation in bending through the
structure, which is related to mechanical properties and back to the angular frequency of bending waves
through

(2)

According to a BPF of 102 Hz and a maximum analysis frequency of 220 Hz, the overall mesh size is
set to 50 mm by application of equations (1) and (2). The FE model generated for the primary structure is
presented in figure 3.
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Figure 3. Finite element model generated for the primary structure (70853 elements).
C. Vibro-acoustic simulation
The vibro-acoustic response of the primary structure is obtained following a two-step uncoupled
simulation process which consists on a modal frequency response analysis in MSC NASTRAN (SOL
111) which yields the displacement field in the structure, and a subsequent acoustic response analysis in
LMS Virtual.Lab to obtain acoustic pressure levels inside the cabin. The fluid-structural coupling inside
the aircraft cabin is considered to be sufficiently weak so that both analysis can be performed uncoupled
and subsequently instead of running a fully coupled case which would imply higher computational
requirements.
1. Source characterization
According to the simulation process described above, generic turbopropeller vibro-acoustic excitation
is defined by means of a typical pressure distribution applied to the outer skin of the aircraft fuselage over
a bounded region of influence. Source characterization is kept simple as such process is not directly
related to the objectives included in the scope of the study: any typical source characterization is expected
to provide similar results regardless its degree of complexity. Figure 4 presents an overview of the
application of the vibro-acoustic excitation to the FE model of the aircraft fuselage.

Figure 4. Vibro-acoustic excitation on the FE model of the aircraft fuselage (pressure


distribution represented as a set of equivalent point forces).
The excitation frequency is related to BPF of turbopropeller engines and is arbitrarily set to 102 Hz.

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2. Structural response analysis


The structural response of the primary structure is computed by means of a modal frequency response
analysis using MSC NASTRAN (SOL 111) thus allowing for easy recalculation of multiple load cases, a
key feature later on in the optimization process. As most of the fuselage structure is basically made of
aluminum, a modal damping ratio of 2% is considered to be a sufficiently good representation of the
structural damping in the structure. Nevertheless, as long as the structure is lightly damped, the actual
value for such parameter is not relevant to the results of the present study. The resulting displacement
field constitutes the main output of this step and is taken as an input for prediction of acoustic pressure
levels inside the aircraft cabin.
3. Acoustic response analysis
Once the structural response of the primary structure is obtained, the acoustic pressure levels radiated
inside the aircraft cabin can be computed in LMS Virtual.Lab by application of an acoustic response
analysis to the boundary element (BE) model of the aircraft cabin. The BE model defines all acoustic
cavities inside the fuselage and relates the internal acoustic pressure field to the displacement field in the
fuselage structure. Therefore, the previously computed displacement field is herein taken as the acoustic
excitation. The BE model should be constructed based on mesh size criteria related to pressure wave
propagation through the air, which generally results in coarser meshes in comparison with FE models. For
the present study, a BE model with an overall mesh size of 200 mm is considered to represent
appropriately the displacement field as well as to comply with the aforementioned mesh size criteria. An
overview of the BE model in comparison with the FE model is shown in figure 5.

Figure 5. Boundary element model generated for the aircraft cabin (5988 elements). Detail of
the FEM/BEM fitting.
It can be observed from figure 5 that the FE model and the BE model do not cover the same extent in
length of the aircraft fuselage. This corresponds to the fact that, whereas shell modeling in the FE model
can be limited to a certain number of fuselage sections according to proximity to the source, the BE
model needs to cover the whole extent of the acoustic cabin. Figure 5 also provides a detailed view for
easy comparison of both mesh sizes. It can be noted that all nodes in the BE model have correspondence
to a node in the FE model.
A set of 20 microphones is distributed inside the aircraft cabin in order to determine the interior
overall sound pressure level (OASPL), which constitutes the main output of the vibro-acoustic simulation
process as well as the control variable for vibro-acoustic optimization. Furthermore, two field point
planes, one horizontal and one vertical, are defined for better visualization of the acoustic pressure field
inside the aircraft cabin. The vertical position of all discrete microphones and the horizontal field point
plane is established at a typical height for seated passenger ears, whereas the vertical field point plane is
located in the plane of turbopropeller excitation. The position of all field point elements is represented in
relation to the FE model in figure 6.

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Figure 6. Definition of microphone positions (purple) and field point planes (yellow) for acoustic
pressure field prediction.

D. Baseline results
1. Modal analysis
Even though modal analysis is not directly related to the main simulation process for the vibroacoustic response of the primary structure, it can provide useful information with respect to modal density
distribution over the frequency range of interest as well as typical mode shapes corresponding to natural
frequencies which are close to the main excitation frequency of 102 Hz. A modal analysis case is run over
the frequency range between 0 Hz and 220 Hz using the Lanczos method for eigenvalue extraction with
MSC NASTRAN (SOL 103). Modal analysis results yield a number of 993 eigenmodes in this frequency
range, 56 of these being comprised in the 10 Hz frequency band centered at the excitation frequency, i.e.
between 97 Hz and 107 Hz. Three representative normal modes are represented in figure 7.

Figure 7. Three eigenvalues obtained in the frequency range between 97 Hz and 107 Hz. Left:
Mode 168 at 97.9 Hz. Center: Mode 187 at 102.0 Hz. Right: Mode 203 at 105.2 Hz.

2. Structural response analysis


The displacement field of the primary structure resulting from BPF excitation at 102 Hz is presented
in figure 8.

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Figure 8. Displacement field in mm obtained for the primary structure from BPF excitation at
102 Hz.

3. Acoustic response analysis


Acoustic pressure fields radiated from BPF excitation at 102 Hz are presented in figure 9.

Figure 9. Interior acoustic pressure fields from BPF excitation at 102 Hz. Left: Horizontal field
point plane (upper view, back to front). Right: Vertical field point plane corresponding to the
propeller plane (front view).

Results in terms of OASPL are presented in figures 10 and 11. Contributions to the OASPL from skin
panels and floor panels along the longitudinal axis are compared for further understanding of vibroacoustic transmission paths.

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Figure 10. Contribution from structural elements to OASPL in the aircraft cabin from BPF
excitation at 102 Hz.

Figure 11. Contribution from fuselage sections (front to back) to OASPL in the aircraft cabin
from BPF excitation at 102 Hz. Solid line: Total OASPL. Dashed line: Skin panels contribution.
Dotted line: Floor panels contribution.

III. Structural Countermeasures


The range of structural countermeasures included in the scope of the present study is divided into two
different categories: local structural modifications and passive vibration control devices. The main
difference between these two groups lies on whether any degrees of freedom are added to the primary
structure or not. Whereas local structural modifications are herein understood as local changes in stiffness
and mass properties of the primary structure thus affecting to relations between existing degrees of
freedom, passive vibration control devices pursue the effective transfer of kinetic energy from the primary
structure to the degrees of freedom of attached elements.
Rather than providing a detailed description on how these countermeasures are to be found in real
applications related to aerospace industry, this section is aimed at defining how all proposed
countermeasure elements are managed in the vibro-acoustic simulation process with respect to their
implementation in the primary structure FE model.

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A. Local structural modifications


1. Local stiffness modifications
Local stiffness modifications are implemented in the FE model of the primary structure by adding
discrete beam elements, also referred further in this paper as stiffeners. Their application to the numerical
simulation methodology is based on four major assumptions:

All stiffeners are attached to internal nodes of the primary structure, i.e. coincidence between
stiffener attachments and boundary conditions is not considered.
Stiffeners do not transfer torsional loads, i.e. torsional stiffness is set to zero for all elements.
All stiffeners are considered to have the same cross section and to be made of the same material,
i.e. same values of moments of inertia and elastic modulus apply to all elements.
The dynamic effect related to the mass of the stiffeners is disregarded, i.e. density is set to zero
for all elements.

According to these assumptions, the stiffness matrix, which is defined as the relationship between
element forces and node displacements as
{ }
for element forces applied at the nodes { }
{
nodal displacements { }

[ ]{ }

(3)

} and
}, is written as18

[ ]

(4)

where

according to the hypotheses above.


2. Local mass modifications
Local mass modifications are implemented in the FE model of the primary structure by adding
discrete mass elements. Their application to the numerical simulation methodology is based on three
major assumptions:

All mass elements are attached to internal nodes of the primary structure, i.e. coincidence
between mass elements and boundary conditions is not considered.
Mass inertias are not considered.
All elements are considered to have the same mass value.

Based on equation (3), an equivalent dynamic stiffness matrix is defined as

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[ ]

(5)

B. Passive vibration control devices


1. Dynamic vibration absorbers (DVA)
Dynamic vibration absorbers (DVAs) are implemented in the FE model of the primary structure as a
number of single degree-of-freedom systems composed by a mass, a spring and a damper, which are
attached to the primary structure at predefined positions. It is important to note that, even though each
DVA introduces an additional degree of freedom to the structure, only their dynamic effect on the
primary structure is of interest. Their application to the numerical simulation methodology is based on
three major assumptions:

All DVAs are attached to internal nodes of the primary structure, i.e. coincidence between
DVA attachments and boundary conditions is not considered.
Same mass, stiffness and damping values are considered for all elements.

Dynamic vibration absorbers (DVAs) are studied for two different types of attachment conditions. On
the one hand, compressive DVAs oscillate perpendicularly to the structural element to which they are
attach and aim at counteracting its out-of-plane bending motion. On the other hand, shear DVAs might
provide some kinetic energy absorption in the two in-plane directions.
Based on equation (3), an equivalent dynamic stiffness is defined as a scalar magnitude, for both
compressive and shear DVAs, as
(6)
where
denotes the DVA mass,
denotes the natural frequency of the DVA as a single-degree-offreedom system (the tuning frequency), and denotes the DVA damping ratio. For the particular case in
which the DVA is tuned to the excitation frequency, i.e.
, equation (6) is simplified to
(

(7)

IV. Structural Coupling


Structural coupling between the primary structure and structural countermeasures is performed by
applying a structural coupling method based on the frequency response functions (FRF) of the primary
structure16. Substructural elements are represented by the equivalent dynamic forces that they exert on the
primary structure so they can be easily included or excluded from the analysis by modifying the load
case. Once the FRFs of the primary structure are computed at a preliminary stage, recalculation of the
modified structure is performed at very low extra computational cost.
The following transfer functions need to be obtained for the primary structure:

Transfer functions between external loads and pre-defined vibro-acoustic output positions, which
is equivalent to the vibro-acoustic response of the primary structure at the output positions.
Transfer functions between external loads and candidate positions subject to either local
structural modification or attachment of passive control devices, which is equivalent to the vibroacoustic response of the primary structure at candidate positions.
Crossed transfer functions between candidate positions and pre-defined vibro-acoustic output
positions in order to construct the response of the modified structure using equivalent forces.

A. Mathematical model
The displacement at each node affected by the implementation of countermeasures is written as a
superposition of terms from external loads and equivalent forces for all countermeasure elements. Node
displacements are then written as
{ }

[ ]{ }

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(8)

where { } denotes the vector of node displacements for the modified structure, { } denotes the vector of
node displacements for the primary structure, [ ] denotes the matrix of transfer functions between
affected nodes, and { } denotes the vector of equivalent forces resulting from the implementation of
countermeasure element configurations. All displacements and forces are referred to the global coordinate
system of the primary structure.
The vector of equivalent forces at the affected nodes needs to be constructed from individual element
forces by appropriate coordinate transformation and matrix composition, i.e. forces related to a given
individual element need to be applied to corresponding positions of the global force vector { }.
Furthermore, element forces in equation (3) produce reactions on the primary structure which are of same
magnitude but opposite direction, thus requiring sign inversion of individual force vectors { } in the
construction of the global force vector { }. The vector of node equivalent forces is therefore written, in
terms of individual vectors of element forces, as
{ }

[ ][

] [ ]{ }

(9)

where { } is a vector constructed from individual vector forces { } for all elements as
{ }
{ }

{ }

{{

(10)

}}

[ ] is a diagonal matrix assembled from a number of identity submatrices which select the elements used
in the countermeasure configuration, [ ] is a square banded matrix such that
[ ]
[

[ ]

(11)
[

]]

in which [ ] is the coordinate transformation matrix for element , and [ ] is referred as the distribution
matrix, assembled from a number of identity submatrices, which relates forces at the nodes of individual
elements to forces at the affected nodes of the primary structure.
The extended individual force vector { } is written in terms of the extended individual displacement
vector { } in local coordinates, as
{ }

]{ }

(12)

where the extended dynamic stiffness matrix is defined as


[
[

[ ]

(13)
[

]]

The extended individual displacement vector is written in terms of global node displacements as
{ }

][ ] { }

(14)

Substitution of equations (9), (12) and (14) into equation (8) allows for the reformulation of the
mathematical problem as a classical system of linear equations in terms of global node displacements as
[ ]{ }

{ }

with

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(15)

[ ]

[ ]

[ ][ ][

] [ ][

][

][ ]

(16)

and
{ }

(17)

Once equation (15) is solved for global node displacements, global forces are obtained as
[ ]

[ ][

] [ ][

][

][ ] { }

(18)

The vibro-acoustic response at output positions is finally obtained using the principle of superposition
as
{ }

{ }

[ ]{ }

(19)

where { } denotes the baseline response of the primary structure, and [ ] denotes the matrix of transfer
functions between affected nodes and output positions. It should be noted that transfer functions in [ ]
may relate equivalent forces to either structural displacements, velocities and accelerations, or to acoustic
pressure values at given pre-defined output positions. Validity of such operations is exclusively stated on
the initial assumption of linear vibro-acoustic behavior of all elements in the problem of interest.
B. Particularities
1. Local stiffness modifications
The implementation of a stiffener into the primary structure establishes a relationship between one
element and two nodes in all six degrees of freedom. Therefore, for any problem consisting on the
attachment of
stiffeners to
attachment nodes, the following particularities need to be taken into
consideration with respect to the mathematical model above:

Vectors and matrices related to nodes of the primary structure satisfy { } { } { }


and
[ ]
.
Extended force and displacement vectors, { } { }
, are constructed from individual
force vectors { } and individual displacement vectors { } respectively, with twelve components
each.
The selection matrix, [ ]
, is assembled from
identity submatrices
and allows for straightforward elimination of any stiffener from a given initial configuration.
The extended coordinate transformation matrix, [ ]
, is constructed from
individual coordinate transformation matrices, [ ]
, which transform local
coordinates for each stiffener to global coordinates of the primary structure.
The distribution matrix, [ ]
, is assembled from
identity submatrices
and relates forces at the nodes of individual stiffeners to forces at the affected nodes of the
primary structure.

2. Local mass modifications


The implementation of a mass into the primary structure establishes a relationship between one
element and one node in all three translational degrees of freedom. Therefore, for any problem consisting
on the attachment of masses to attachment nodes, with
, the following particularities apply:

Vectors and matrices related to nodes of the primary structure satisfy { } { } { }


and
[ ]
.
Extended force and displacement vectors { } { }
, are constructed from individual force
vectors { } and individual displacement vectors { } respectively, with three components each.
The selection matrix, [ ]
, is assembled from
identity submatrices and
allows for straightforward elimination of any mass element from a given initial configuration.
The extended coordinate transformation matrix [ ] becomes the identity matrix in
due to the absence of local coordinates for mass elements.
The distribution matrix [ ] becomes the identity matrix in
due to the one-to-one
correspondence between mass elements and affected nodes of the primary structure.

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3. Dynamic vibration absorbers


The implementation of a dynamic vibration absorber (DVA) into the primary structure establishes a
relationship between one set of elements and one node in one translational degree of freedom. Therefore,
for any problem consisting on the attachment of
DVAs to
attachment nodes, with
, the
following particularities apply:

Vectors and matrices related to nodes of the primary structure satisfy { } { } { }


and
[ ]
.
Extended force and displacement vectors { } { }
, are constructed from individual forces
and individual displacements respectively.
The selection matrix, [ ]
, allows for straightforward elimination of any DVA from a
given initial configuration.
The extended coordinate transformation matrix [ ] becomes the identity matrix in
due to the absence of local coordinates for DVAs.
The distribution matrix [ ] becomes the identity matrix in
due to the one-to-one
correspondence between DVAs and affected nodes of the primary structure.

V. Optimization Tool
The optimization tool applied to structural countermeasures for the primary structure is based on a
brute force algorithm which fundamentally consists on sequential simulation of a number of candidate
configurations and direct comparison of results. Besides the structural definition of the primary structure
and the countermeasure elements which are considered in the optimization problem, a set of candidate
elements attached to candidate positions needs to be pre-defined at an early stage of the process. The
objective of the optimization tool is then to determine which configuration constructed as a combination
of any number of candidate elements provides best results in terms of vibro-acoustic response.
Although the mathematical model presented above allows for vibro-acoustic recalculation of
countermeasure configurations at very low computational cost, the number of configurations which need
to be processed escalates with the number of candidate elements. Indeed, for pre-defined candidate
elements, the number of configurations is obtained as
(18)
thus limiting severely the applicability of the optimization tool to global solutions distributed all over the
primary structure. In order to overcome such drawback, an enhancement of the original brute force
optimization algorithm is proposed for higher efficiency and hence lower computational requirements.
The proposed algorithm is based on the decomposition of the structural optimization problem into a finite
number of subdomains, which are individually optimized following an iterative process until results
convergence is reached.
For a given structural domain to be optimized, denoted as , the proposed optimization algorithms is
described as follows:
1. The structural domain

is partitioned into

subdomains

2. Brute force optimization is performed for subdomain

3. Brute force optimization is performed for subdomain


subdomains with
.
4. Once subdomain
subdomain .

keeping optimum configurations for all

is processed, results are compared to those obtained prior to processing

5. The loop 2-4 is repeated until differences between both results fall below a given reference value.
For all loops after the first one, optimum configurations for all subdomains
with
are
maintained from the previous loop.
It should be noted that the optimization algorithm described above might lead to different optimum
configurations and optimum values depending on initial numbering of subdomains. The optimization
algorithm allows finding local optimum values but cannot ensure overall minimum results.
Furthermore, if the primary structure presents low modal density in the frequency range of interest, an
additional problem might arise. If the excitation frequency falls close to a natural frequency of the
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primary structure and the vibro-acoustic response is highly dominated by the corresponding structural
mode, local application of countermeasures in a single subdomain
might not be sufficiently intrusive
to change such a modal composition of the response. Therefore, the optimization tool might not be able to
find any optimum configuration for any individual subdomain thus failing to initiate the optimization
process. This can be exemplified for the particular case of stiffener optimization. If the excitation
frequency falls slightly above a natural frequency of the primary structure, local stiffening of a single
subdomain
might not be sufficient to shift that natural frequency well above the excitation frequency
thus failing to provide any improvement in the vibro-acoustic response of the primary structure. If this
happens for all subdomains, the optimization process never starts. However, this does not mean that there
does not exist any optimum stiffener configuration, as a higher number of stiffeners distributed over the
whole domain might yield the expected response. To overcome this limitation, an extra step is added to
the optimization process described above. Prior to performing individual optimization of subdomain ,
both baseline primary structure and primary structure with all candidate elements are compared in terms
of vibro-acoustic results. Optimization of subdomain
is then performed parting from either
configuration, which provides better vibro-acoustic results.
It can be stated from the description of the optimization algorithm above that the selection of
candidate countermeasure elements and candidate positions in the primary structure becomes a key factor
in the process of finding an effective optimum configuration. This step cannot be automatized but is left
to engineering considerations based on the characteristics of the primary structure and the assessment of
the baseline vibro-acoustic response, e.g. geometry constraints morphology of both the displacement field
and the most contributing structural modes, presence of large radiating surfaces, etc. More than one
candidate set of elements and positions might eventually be required for a most effective approach to the
structural optimization problem.

VI. Results
A. Local stiffness modifications
A candidate set of stiffeners and attachment positions is defined on the frames of the aircraft fuselage
under the restriction of not affecting the integrity of the skin. The spatial distribution of candidate
stiffening elements is designed, at a first stage, to be homogeneous over the four frames forward to the
excitation. Although other alternative candidate sets might be also of particular interest, the proposed set
is expected to provide relevant results with respect to the applicability of the optimization methodology.
Candidate set definition for stiffeners on frames is schematically presented in figure 12.

Figure 12. Candidate set for stiffener configurations on fuselage frames (64 elements).
It should be emphasized that the objective of the optimization process for stiffener configurations
consists on finding which combination of any number of stiffeners from those shown in figure 12
provides highest noise reduction levels at predefined output positions. The optimization process is
performed for stiffeners with inertia values within a predefined range. Results in terms of OASPL
reduction levels are presented in figure 13.

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Figure 13. OASPL reduction levels from optimization of stiffener configurations. Solid line:
OASPL reduction levels provided by optimum configurations found for discrete values of
stiffener-to-frame stiffness ratio. Dashed line: OASPL reduction levels provided by
corresponding full configurations.
From figure 13 it can be observed that optimum configurations only provide relevant OASPL reductions
with respect to full configurations for stiffness ratios (between bending stiffness of the stiffeners and
bending stiffness of the original frame) below 10. In this range, full configurations prove to be
excessively stiff thus causing noise amplification. Optimum configurations, which are composed of about
one third of the candidate elements, allow for slight reductions below 1 dB. As the stiffness ratio is
increased beyond 10, optimum configurations almost coincide with full configurations, and both curves in
figure 13 merge to an asymptotic behavior of OASPL reduction with the stiffness ratio.
According to manufacturability considerations, a stiffness ratio of 10 with a corresponding OASPL
reduction of 3.9 dB is set as a limit value, and therefore is taken for further analysis through conventional
vibro-acoustic simulation. Vibro-acoustic results for this configuration are compared to those presented
for the baseline primary structure in section II. Such optimum stiffener configuration is found to contain
63 out of the 64 candidate elements chosen for optimization. The displacement field of the optimum
configuration is compared to that of the primary structure resulting from BPF excitation at 102 Hz in
figure 14.

Figure 14. Displacement field in mm from BPF excitation at 102 Hz. Left: Primary structure.
Right: Optimum stiffener configuration (stiffness ratio 10).
Acoustic pressure fields radiated from BPF excitation at 102 Hz are compared in figure 15.

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Figure 15. Interior acoustic pressure fields from BPF excitation at 102 Hz. Up: Primary
structure. Down: Optimum stiffener configuration (stiffness ratio 10).
Finally, global comparison of OASPL contributions is presented in figure 16, and comparison of
OASPL contributions along the longitudinal axis of the airframe is presented in figure 17.

Figure 16. Contribution from structural elements to OASPL from BPF excitation at 102 Hz.
Solid bar: Primary structure. Dashed bar: Optimum stiffener configuration (stiffness ratio 10).

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Figure 17. Contribution from fuselage sections (front to back) to OASPL from BPF excitation
at 102 Hz. Left: Primary structure. Right: Optimum stiffener configuration (stiffness ratio 10).
Solid line: Total OASPL. Dashed line: Skin panels contribution. Dotted line: Floor panels
contribution.
From figure 14 and figure 15 it can be observed that frame stiffening provides an homogeneous
reduction of both the displacement field and the interior acoustic pressure field, especially for the vertical
propeller plane. Figure 16 also shows an homogeneous reduction of about 4 dB for both floor panels and
skin components, and figure 17 reveals very little changes with respect to panel contributions along the
longitudinal axis. Therefore, it can be stated that frame stiffening produces slight homogeneous
attenuation of the vibro-acoustic behavior of the primary structure.
B. Local mass modifications
In order to approach SPL contributions from skin panels and floor panels separately, the optimization
methodology is applied independently to a given set of candidate masses and positions for each structural
component. However, whereas floor panels can be approached directly, masses aimed at reducing the
SPL contribution from skin panels are attached to the frames under the restriction of not affecting the
integrity of the skin. In both cases, candidate sets are defined on the basis of homogeneous distribution of
a reasonable number of elements into the airframe. In order to portrait candidate set definition, mass
configurations which contain all candidate elements for both cases are presented in figure 18.

Figure 18. Candidate sets for mass configurations. Left: Frame configuration (64 elements).
Right: Floor configuration (48 elements).
It should be emphasized that the objective of the optimization process for mass configurations consists
on finding which combination of any number of masses from those shown in figure 18 provides highest
noise reduction levels at predefined output positions.
1. Optimization of frame configurations
The optimization process is performed for mass elements with discrete values between 1 kg and 15
kg. It should be noted that, for a total number of 64 candidate elements, this can result in a maximum total
attached mass of 960 kg, corresponding to the 16% of the airframe mass. Results in terms of OASPL
reduction levels are presented in figure 19.

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Figure 19. OASPL reduction levels from optimization of frame configurations of mass elements.
Solid line: OASPL reduction levels provided by optimum configurations found for discrete
values of element mass. Dashed line: OASPL reduction levels provided by full configurations
with equivalent total mass.
OASPL reduction levels presented in figure 19 (solid line) can be separated into two components
according to two different source effects. On the one side, OASPL reduction can be achieved by
appropriate reconfiguration of the natural frequencies of the primary structure in relation to the excitation
frequency, which is exclusively a mass effect and is not related to the spatial configuration of the attached
elements. On the other hand, an optimum spatial distribution of attached elements might also yield to
further reduction of OASPL due to spatial effects such as slight morphing of mode shapes or phase
cancellation effects. The dashed line in figure 19 represents the mass effect component associated to the
total amount of mass added by each optimum configuration. Therefore, the difference between both lines
in figure 19 reflects the impact of spatial effects in the overall OASPL reduction levels. It is interesting to
find that OASPL reduction levels present a monotonous increase with the element mass which is not
translated to a parallel increase of mass effect reductions. In fact, for the range between 6 kg and 11 kg,
the increase in element mass yields optimum configurations with less elements thus keeping the total
mass and, consequently, the mass effect at a roughly constant level.
It is important to note that, as optimum configurations associated to discrete values of element mass
might have uncorrelated number of elements, the dashed line in figure 19 does not constitute an
appropriate representation in the mass domain. Alternatively, such representation is given in the domain
of total mass in figure 20.

Figure 20. OASPL reduction levels due to the mass effect in the domain of total mass.

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From comparison between figure 19 and figure 20 it can be stated that there is a certain similitude in
the shape of both solid curves, the mass domains being equivalent. In fact, OASPL reduction levels from
optimum configurations in figure 19 present two regions of maximum steep, up to 6 kg and 13 kg
respectively, which are corresponding with the local maxima in the mass effect curve in figure 14.
However, reduction levels provided by optimum configurations (13 dB and 20 dB respectively) are
significantly higher than those associated to the mass effect (8 dB and 15 dB respectively).
In order to provide further insight on the nature of OASPL reduction levels produced by optimum
mass configurations, the optimum configuration for an element mass of 4 kg is subject to conventional
vibro-acoustic simulation, and the obtained results are compared to those presented for the baseline
primary structure in section II. An element mass of 4 kg is chosen because it provides significant OASPL
reduction (10.7 dB) at a relatively low total mass increase of 168 kg (about 3% of the airframe mass). The
optimum configuration for an element mass of 4 kg consists of 42 elements, out of the 64 candidate
elements, which are distributed as shown in figure 21.

Figure 21. Optimum mass configuration for mass elements of 4 kg.


The displacement field of the optimum configuration is compared to that of the primary structure
resulting from BPF excitation at 102 Hz in figure 22.

Figure 22. Displacement field in mm from BPF excitation at 102 Hz. Left: Primary structure.
Right: Optimum mass configuration (4 kg).
Acoustic pressure fields radiated from BPF excitation at 102 Hz are compared in figure 23.

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Figure 23. Interior acoustic pressure fields from BPF excitation at 102 Hz. Up: Primary
structure. Down: Optimum mass configuration (4 kg).
Finally, global comparison of OASPL contributions is presented in figure 24, and comparison of
OASPL contributions along the longitudinal axis of the airframe is presented in figure 25.

Figure 24. Contribution from structural elements to OASPL from BPF excitation at 102 Hz.
Solid bar: Primary structure. Dashed bar: Optimum mass configuration (4 kg).

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Figure 25. Contribution from fuselage sections (front to back) to OASPL from BPF excitation at
102 Hz. Left: Primary structure. Right: Optimum mass configuration (4 kg). Solid line: Total
OASPL. Dashed line: Skin panels contribution. Dotted line: Floor panels contribution.
From comparison between figure 22 for mass configurations and figure 14 for stiffener configurations
it can be observed that the implementation of optimum mass configurations does not provide further
substantial attenuation of the displacement field in the airframe. Nevertheless, figure 23 does show much
more significant attenuation of the interior acoustic pressure field, both for the horizontal and the vertical
plane. A reasonable explanation for such unexpected phenomena can be found in figure 24, in which a
reduction of about 7 dB of the skin component combines with an outstanding reduction of 14 dB for the
floor panel component for an overall OASPL reduction of about 10 dB. This very same effect can be also
observed in figure 25, where the curve corresponding to floor panel contribution presents a remarkable
shift downwards from the skin contribution curve, which virtually coincides with the OASPL curve after
the implementation of the optimum mass configuration. In conclusion, it can be stated that, whereas the
impact on the skin contribution to the OASPL presents little improvement, the implementation of mass
configurations produces an outstanding attenuation effect on the floor panel contribution which proves to
affect sensitively to the global reduction levels.
2. Optimization of floor configurations
The optimization process is performed for mass elements with discrete values between 100 grams and
5 kg. It should be noted that, for a total number of 48 candidate elements, this can result in a maximum
total attached mass of 240 kg, corresponding to the 4% of the airframe mass. Results in terms of OASPL
reduction levels are presented in figure 26. Additionally, OASPL reduction levels due to the mass effect,
i.e. obtained by implementation of full mass configurations, are presented in figure 27.

Figure 26. OASPL reduction levels from optimization of floor panel configurations of mass
elements. Solid line: OASPL reduction levels provided by optimum configurations found for
discrete values of element mass. Dashed line: OASPL reduction levels provided by full
configurations with equivalent total mass.

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Figure 27. OASPL reduction levels due to the mass effect in the domain of total mass.

First of all, from both figure 26 and figure 27, it can be stated that adding mass to the floor panels is
not generally advisable, as one of their first natural frequencies is shifted down to the excitation frequency
thus producing floor panels resonance for a total mass of 66 kg. Besides this particular effect, the
homogeneous addition of mass to the floor panels proves to be limited to a maximum OASPL reduction
of about 3 dB. In this case, the optimization of mass elements might be providing two positive effects
with respect to the limitations of homogeneous mass addition. On the one hand, for each value of element
mass, the number of elements is adjusted so that undesired resonance is avoided. On the other hand,
optimum configurations might benefit from phase cancellation effects between different panels thus
allowing for significant noise reduction. From figure 26 it can be observed that optimum configurations
yield OASPL reduction levels up to about 6 dB.
When it comes to noise attenuation from elementary structural elements, e.g. beams, plates,
membranes, etc., which possess a low number of structural modes in the frequency range of interest, it is
generally advisable to study such modal composition before launching any optimization tool. For this
study case, the sharp OASPL amplification peak found in figure 27 for a total mass of 66 kg might be an
indicator that one of the first modes of the floor panels, probably with high noise radiation efficiency,
appears at a natural frequency slightly above the excitation BPF frequency of 102 Hz. Therefore, as floor
panels mass is increased, such natural frequency is shifted towards the BPF frequency eventually
producing floor panels resonance. Nevertheless, this observation does not necessarily result in discarding
the optimization of mass configurations attached to floor panels as optimum positioning of mass elements
might benefit from phase cancellation (or subtraction) of individual panel noise contributions, even if they
are high due to structural response close to resonance.
From conventional vibro-acoustic simulation of the optimum configuration for an element mass value
of 3 kg, global OASPL contributions are compared in figure 28, and OASPL contributions along the
longitudinal axis of the airframe are compared in figure 29.

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Figure 28. Contribution from structural elements to OASPL from BPF excitation at 102 Hz.
Solid bar: Primary structure. Dashed bar: Optimum floor mass configuration (3 kg).

Figure 29. Contribution from fuselage sections (front to back) to OASPL from BPF excitation at
102 Hz. Left: Primary structure. Right: Optimum floor mass configuration (3 kg). Solid line:
Total OASPL. Dashed line: Skin panels contribution. Dotted line: Floor panels contribution.
From figure 28 it can be observed that the optimum configuration has little effect on the OASPL
contribution from skin panels, and the total OASPL reduction level of about 4 dB is related to an
attenuation of the contribution from floor panels of 6.5 dB. This effect is also observed in figure 29,
where the dashed line for skin panels contribution presents very little variation when compared to the
baseline results.
C. Dynamic vibration absorbers
The optimization problem for dynamic vibration absorbers (DVAs) is identical to optimization of
frame configurations of mass elements with respect to the definition of candidate nodes and candidate
elements. However, in this case, DVA masses are only allowed to oscillate in the perpendicular direction
with respect to the frames to which they are attached. The optimization process is performed, both for
tuned (
) and detuned (
) DVAs in the mass range up to 6 kg.
1. Compressive dynamic vibration absorbers
At a first stage, compressive DVAs are forced to a single-degree-of-freedom natural frequency equal
to the excitation frequency, i.e. 102 Hz, which hence establishes a direct relationship between the DVA
mass and the stiffness of the DVA spring. Therefore, the optimization process needs to account for spatial
distribution of DVAs as well as two parameters: mass and damping ratio. Results in terms of OASPL
reduction levels, for the mass range up to 6 kg and for discrete values of damping ratio, are compared to
results obtained from the optimization of mass configurations in figure 30.

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Figure 30. OASPL reduction levels from optimization of compressive DVA configurations for
discrete values of viscous damping ratio.
It can be observed from figure 30 that optimum DVA configurations only provide higher reductions
than optimum mass configurations for the range of element mass up to 2 kg, and the corresponding curves
do not present an increasing trend as the element mass is increased. Instead, some optimum values of
DVA mass are found for each value of viscous damping ratio.
At a second stage, the analysis focuses on the effect of tuning the DVAs at other frequencies rather
than the excitation frequency. For such extended analysis only DVAs with mass value of 1.2 kg and
damping ratio of 0.1 % are taken, which corresponds to the optimum configuration of tuned compressive
DVAs with highest OASPL reduction level (6.7 dB). Results in terms of OASPL reduction levels are
presented in figure 31.

Figure 31. OASPL reduction levels from optimization of detuned compressive DVA
configurations for tuning frequencies in the range between 92 Hz and 112 Hz (mass 1.2 kg,
damping ratio 0.1 %).

2. Shear dynamic vibration absorbers


Following the same process than for compressive DVAs, results in terms of OASPL reduction levels
for shear DVAs tuned at the excitation frequency, i.e. 102 Hz, are presented in figure 32.

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Figure 32. OASPL reduction levels from optimization of shear DVA configurations for discrete
values of viscous damping ratio.
At second analysis stage, a shear DVA with mass value of 1.2 kg and damping ratio of 5 %,
corresponding to the optimum configuration of tuned shear DVAs with highest OASPL reduction level
(9.9 dB) is chosen. Results in terms of OASPL reduction levels are presented in figure 33.

Figure 33. OASPL reduction levels from optimization of detuned shear DVA configurations for
tuning frequencies in the range between 92 Hz and 112 Hz (mass 1.2 kg, damping ratio 0.5 %).
It is interesting to note that both compressive and shear DVAs present a similar behavior with respect
to tuning frequency, a peak OASPL reduction level is reached at a tuning frequency slightly below the
excitation frequency, 98 Hz for both cases, and a rapid decay rate for higher tuning frequencies.
Maximum OASPL reduction provided by shear DVAs with a DVA mass of 1.2 kg proves slightly higher
than maximum OASPL reduction provided by compressive DVAs also with a DVA mass of 1.2 kg,
reaching in both cases the OASPL reduction levels provided by mass configurations for an element mass
of 6 kg.

VII. Conclusions
From the results presented above and their interpretation, it can be stated that the proposed
optimization methodology constitutes an effective tool not only for the attenuation of cabin noise in
turbopropeller aircraft but also for the enhanced understanding of its vibro-acoustic behavior. Results in
terms of displacement fields and acoustic pressure fields, among other magnitudes, can be obtained at
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relatively low computational cost, which therefore enables the analyst to tailor the approach to any
particular aspect of the vibro-acoustic performance of the primary structure, e.g. OASPL reduction at
given output positions, contribution from structural elements and sections, attenuation of the vibration
amplitude for a particular structural element, modal composition and contribution to the vibro-acoustic
response, etc. Furthermore, as the proposed optimization methodology is stated on generic terms, it can be
easily applied to any particular structure with any particular set of requirements only by applying the
corresponding restrictions to the matrix equation above accordingly.
The contents of the present document constitute an initial stage or level zero in the development
process of a mature optimization tool which is ready for application to real vibro-acoustic problems in
aerospace industry. It is also aimed at defining a roadmap for such development which consists on
leveling up each of the particular topics which are involved, i.e. structural coupling methods, optimization
algorithms, exploration of countermeasures, etc., by increasing their level of complexity, eventually
resulting in lower computational requirements, more detailed insight in the vibro-acoustic problem,
higher noise reduction levels, etc. This is summarized in table 1.

Level Zero

Level Up
Multiple-DoF DVAs,
absorption panels,
mechanical properties

Selection of
Countermeasures

Stiffeners, masses
and DVAs

Structural
Coupling

FRF coupling at
discrete nodes

FRF and modal coupling


at continuous boundaries

Optimization
Algorithm

Enhanced brute force


optimization

Study and
implementation of
sophisticated algorithms
for mathematical
optimization

Coding

Simple MATLAB
routines

Code debugging and


improvement

Test-based Monte Carlo


Simulation for optimum
countermeasure
configurations

Real
Implementation

Target
Elaboration of a library
of vibro-acoustic
countermeasures
Selection of structural
coupling techniques
according to the
selection of
countermeasures
Selection of the
optimization algorithm
according to problem
requirements
User-oriented
simulation tool with
well-defined inputs and
outputs
Implementation of
Monte Carlo
Simulation in the
optimization process

Table 1. Level zero and roadmap for further development of the proposed methodology for the
optimization of structural countermeasures for noise attenuation in aircraft cabins.

Acknowledgments
The present study is developed in the framework of a PhD program in aerospace engineering at UPCBarcelonaTech, co-funded by SENER Ingeniera y Sistemas, S.A. The author is very grateful to the Noise
and Vibration Group in SENER Ingeniera y Sistemas, and especially to fellows Pierre Huguenet, Ben
Park and Emiliano Tolosa for their active support and valuable advice throughout all the research
activities.

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