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Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Mon Sep 11, 2000 2:41 am

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?

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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Mon Sep 11, 2000 2:46 am

Boeing 727- a loud rumble, sort of like bolders rolling down hill
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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Mon Sep 11, 2000 2:49 am

DC-10, a circular saw
DC-9, very loud rumble like avalanche
My views as expressed above are my views alone and do not constitute the views of my employer.
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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Mon Sep 11, 2000 2:50 am

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.


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134 And 154.

Mon Sep 11, 2000 1:53 pm

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.
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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Mon Sep 11, 2000 7:46 pm

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CV990, the Maserati of the skies!
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RE: Airliner Recognition By

Mon Sep 11, 2000 11:46 pm

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.
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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Tue Sep 12, 2000 12:51 am

MD-80: VERY LOUD!!!!!

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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Tue Sep 12, 2000 12:54 am

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?
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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Tue Sep 12, 2000 2:16 am

Id have to say the 727 falls under the "hairdryer" category too.
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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Tue Sep 12, 2000 3:14 am

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.

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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Tue Sep 12, 2000 3:33 am

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 !!!!!!

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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Tue Sep 12, 2000 3:52 am

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.
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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Tue Sep 12, 2000 3:56 am

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.
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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Tue Sep 12, 2000 4:22 am

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.
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RE: Tupolev's 134/154

Tue Sep 12, 2000 5:56 am

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

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Tue Sep 12, 2000 6:28 am

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!  
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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Tue Sep 12, 2000 7:01 am

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).


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RE: Airliner Recognition By "sound"

Tue Sep 12, 2000 7:21 am

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.
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The Roar

Tue Sep 12, 2000 8:55 am

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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