There has been a lot written about soundproofing a light aircraft in recent years, but with all the advances in aircraft engine performance and fuselage aerodynamics little has been done to deaden the noise in these more powerful aircraft. Many times sound issues become a major factorwhen you are actually attempting to enjoy the increased performance in your aircraft. Soundproofing is indeed a science, but it is not “Rocket Science”. There are companies out there that claim to make pre-cut, or so called “custom” soundproofing kits for your particular breed of Cessna, Piper, Beechcraft or other light aircraft. These kits are oft times extremely expensive and generally lack the sound attenuation to make your flight as enjoyable as possible.
My question is simply this, who knows your airplane better than you, the owner and pilot? Your life hangs in the balance every time you power up at the end of the runway. You had better know that aircraft inside and out. You hear where those annoying noises are coming from better than anyone!
My point here being that a costly pre-cut kit is not necessary if you know the hot spots on your aircraft and treat them with America soundproofing mat. This material can be adhered with good quality, waterproof contact cement; one with a fungicide is always preferred. You always glue the smooth side of the mat down and have the pebbly side facing the noise source. This mat prevents a condition common to most light aircraft known as “oil canning”. Oil canning is the effect of air turbulence, and engine noise that is transmitted throughout the thin aluminum fuselages in today’s modern light aircraft. America mat, generally in the ½” thickness is extremely effective at quelling aluminum transmitted noise and vibration (Oil Canning). It is particularly effective when adhered to the actual outer skin of the craft.
In areas that we refer to as hot spots, you can use a combination of America Mat with an inner layer of regular Reynolds aluminum foil and then another layer of the America mat adhered to the foil. The Reynolds wrap acts as a barrier and works in conjunction with the absorbtive qualities of the mat.
Weight and balance are always a consideration in any light duty aircraft as well as home builds. A half a roll (25 lineal feet, or 100sq ft.) will do most small aircraft such as a Cessna, Piper, or Beechcraft, but when you are looking to soundproof a Bonanza or King Air for example, perhaps ¾ of a roll will be needed for the best result.
Check out some of our other guides to soundproofing projects! We have posts on soundproofing a noisy washing machine, building a soundproof recording booth, and boat engine compartment insulation. If you have questions on airplane soundproofing or anything else, feel free to reach out!