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Airliner Recognition By "sound"  
User currently offlineRedngold From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 6907 posts, RR: 44
Posted (14 years 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 1815 times:

Since this was brought up in another thread and then dropped, I'm starting its own thread.

I am a musician by training and so I often "hear" aircraft before I would otherwise recognize them -- or I can have my back turned and still know what's taking off behind me.

Here are my descriptions:

(Anything piston-engined) -- loud motorcycle (gee, I wonder why??   )

ERJ-135/145 -- High-pitched whine

Airbus-320 -- Hairdryer on "air" setting

Airbus-310 -- Gale force wind

Boeing 737-200 -- Tin foil snapping within a loud roar

Boeing 757 -- Whoosh going to roar (on takeoff)

Fokker-100 -- Hairdryer on "high" setting

Anyone else want to jump in?


Up, up and away!
19 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineJAT From Canada, joined Feb 2000, 1101 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (14 years 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1750 times:

Boeing 727- a loud rumble, sort of like bolders rolling down hill

User currently offlineN312RC From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 2682 posts, RR: 16
Reply 2, posted (14 years 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1742 times:

DC-10, a circular saw
DC-9, very loud rumble like avalanche

Fly Delta's Big Jets!
User currently offlineN863DA From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 48 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (14 years 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1737 times:

L-1011 TriStars have a very distinctive sound. It's difficult to describe but its a very harmonious sound (not a roar, more a whine) and music to the ears if you like that kind of thing. 757s with RB.211s don't sound the same, and nor do 747-236s with RR engines. It's a sound distinctive to the L10.


N 8 6 3 D A

User currently offlineTupolev From Greece, joined Apr 2010, 1 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (14 years 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 1698 times:

The Tu-134 and Tu-154 have the most distinctive sound in the world! You can recognize a taxiing 154 while standing 5 kilometers from it.

User currently offlineCV990 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (14 years 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 1681 times:

That's an interesting topic!

I remember in the past I could "find" the type of airliner by the sound, but that's over now!!! Althoigh I still have some good old "sounds" in my mind.... ex:

B. 707-320 ( with turbojets ) - terrible noise with a kinda of grooble in the middle!

B. 707-320B/C ( with turbofans ) - better sound but always with a kinda of winning middle sound, almost like the new RRoyce in the 757/767's.

DC-8 - Very nice and clear noise almost like tremble!!!

IL-62 - That was avery unique sound, I can't discribe it but it sure was wired!!!

DC-3 - Like a tractor!!!

DC-6 - Like a smoth tractor!!!

DC-9-50 - That was a hell of a sound!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


User currently offlineTriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4695 posts, RR: 42
Reply 6, posted (14 years 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 1661 times:

I will definitely remember the engine start sound of the TriStar's RB211's for the rest of my life! Geez, this dark, rolling whine sent vibrations through my entire body whenever I was watching them while they were still common in DUS.
It's a pity LTU got rid of them - I'm really missing them :-( .

P.S.: The sight of a TriStar hot start is pretty awesome, too. Everyone who's witnessed that will know what I mean.

Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
User currently offlineSKYTEAM From France, joined Nov 2009, 0 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (14 years 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 1655 times:

MD-80: VERY LOUD!!!!!


User currently offlineMEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4328 posts, RR: 35
Reply 8, posted (14 years 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 1656 times:

My favorite sound is of the 707s and DC-8s PW JTD3s. When they get nearer to you, their characteristic whine/scream gets louder majestatically... oh, I love it so much I'd even buy a CD with 707 sounds on it.
And everyone probably knows the Rolls Royce Dart turboprop, which also has some kind of high scream in it (F-27, Viscount, YS-11, 748). So great...
And it's a pity I have never heard the Rolls Royce Avon (Caravelle series I-VI, Comet) in person (OK, a few seconds at the flypast of the Canopus). Anyone remember how they sounded?

nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
User currently offlineKing767 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (14 years 1 week 3 hours ago) and read 1651 times:

Id have to say the 727 falls under the "hairdryer" category too.

User currently offlineNWA Man From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 1828 posts, RR: 12
Reply 10, posted (14 years 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 1641 times:

I can always tell if an Airbus A319/A320 is flying over by the "whoosh" sound that it makes, which seems kind of like a rocket to me.


Create your own luck.
User currently offlineTurboTristar From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (14 years 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 1640 times:

I know some of those two. I can sometimes identify an MD-80 from inside the house. They just have a plain loud engine roar. The 717's are easy to identify on takeoff. They have a low soft roar with some background whine in it. And who couldn't recognize a 747 sound. I think the best of em all were the Tristars. Every week I would go to STL with my mom and sister and obserb the classic widebodies there. I go crazy over the Tristar engines when it is taking off above you. First, you hear the doppler affect of the engines that almost sounds like a prop. But then as it gets over your head, the engine roar starts to blast in! I am getting chills right now !!!!!!


User currently offlineAdam84 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 1400 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (14 years 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 1634 times:

I love the sound of the DC-10's, when your in front of them you hear them buzzing, then when they pass you, you can hear them whine.

User currently offlineAPP From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 546 posts, RR: 6
Reply 13, posted (14 years 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 1633 times:

Just wondering, but surely the aircraft are more difficult to identify than described. I would have thought that a 747 with RR engines would sound different to a 747 with P&W engines. Or does the fact that they are powering the same aircraft give the same effect.

User currently offlineCarioca Canuck From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (14 years 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 1642 times:

The "hairdryer" effect is a perfect description for the A319/320..........I can tell an A320 or A340 just by the sound...........I have to look up for the rest.

User currently offlineRedngold From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 6907 posts, RR: 44
Reply 15, posted (14 years 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1615 times:

What do they sound like? Can you describe them compared either with another airliner or compard to some other machine?


Up, up and away!
User currently offlineRedngold From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 6907 posts, RR: 44
Reply 16, posted (14 years 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1612 times:

I really don't know the different engine types.

My knowledge of acoustics tells me that the different engines will sound different on the same airliner, and the same brand engines on different models will also sound different. This is because the structures of the engines and the structures of the planes have specific vibration frequencies and so when you mix and match different structures and different engines you get different sounds.

To make an analogy -- it's like what would happen if you transplant a larynx (voice box) from one person to another. The person with the transplant won't have his/her voice back the same as before, yet it won't be the same voice as of the person who donated the voice box.

Does this make sense?

Obviously sound also has to do with the air qualities at the time you're listening, as well as other background noise, your location, your own ears...


BTW, I'me very pleased to see so much interest in this topic!  

Up, up and away!
User currently offlineGreeneyes53787 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 844 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (14 years 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 1608 times:

L-1011s have a gentle sound in flight...but just above idle they sound, to me, quite painful--sort of like an elephant under threat of an attack.

I used to live in SAN. I lived 10-miles from the airport, but that L-1011 sound was loud and clear way up there.


Convair 880s sounded like four fighters in formation.

707s (fan engined) sounded metallic but good though.

Bae146s sounded like a glider (almost).


ps-Redngold, Taz is supposed to be Hitler.

User currently offlineAC_A340 From Canada, joined Sep 1999, 2251 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (14 years 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 1602 times:

I would have to say the A320/A319's sound like a lawnmower as opposed to anything else.

And the DC-9, well, one can't begin to describe that.

The RB 211's do have a very unique sound. Gives you chills almost.

The RR engines on a 757 have more of a purr then a whine.

User currently offlineIlyushin96M From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 2609 posts, RR: 12
Reply 19, posted (14 years 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 1596 times:

Anyone who's ever been near an airport the Concorde services regularly knows the gargantuan roar from its four RR Olympus engines. It's unmistakable, even compared to fighter jets and Russian jetliners, which are pretty loud.

Once, I was at the end of the runway at Brown Field in San Diego, waiting for an Air France Concorde to take off from the airshow. The thing I remember is that tremendous roar and a cloud of exhaust from the other end of the runway, and as it approached, the roaring increased, then the Concorde rotated and lifted off, and I could hear the actual engines themselves - the unmuffled whine of fighter jet engines - then the ear-splitting, window-shattering cacophony of the jet at full thrust, afterburners flaming, as it winged overhead.

There has never been, nor will there ever again be, ANYTHING like the Concorde!!!

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