Flying Noise: How to keep the nasty noise out & the nice noise down while flying

Aeroplane noise is a terrible affliction that many people live with. So we considered it appropriate during our flight to AAA’s Audiology Now! (the American Academy of Audiology’s annual conference) to measure the noise exposure inside our 747….

Happily, and rather predictably, the world’s flyers have nothing to worry about with an LEQ of 76.59 dB.


LEQ levels to the USA
LEQ output from ER200D

For the record, we used an Etymotic Research E200D data logger and acted very scientifically at all times: no crunchy snacks were harmed in the production of our noise trace.

That said, some matters that may have affected things:

  • We were sitting in the central aisles – the window could be noisier…..
  • We were about level with the wings –  seats behind the wings are presumably noisier, due to the 4 Rolls-Royce gas guzzlers blasting away out there
  • Led Zeppelin were not jamming in row 42, having sold their beloved personalised jet, “the Starship” in 1980.

So here is the trace: the indications are that – as long as you are not an in-flight movie lover – you will get off the plane with your ears as pristine as you went in, since the accepted international norm is that protection should be used at 85dB ambient noise level.


  1. That does not mean you will sleep well. A set of sleep plugs (or custom earphone sleevesin my case) will do wonders for your jetlag busting sleep, by blocking most of the noise and promoting a good few hours of kip.
    M&Ms Earphone promotion in-flight. If a chocolate advert is warning you of NIHL, there must be something in it!
  2. The inflight movie may not be so benign. If you do want to watch the inflight movie using the headphones the airline supplies, you will need to crank up the volume to hear the words over the engine noise. The rule of thumb is that the average person needs a 15dB signal to noise ratio to hear speech over background noise. Do your sums and it becomes apparent that your inflight entertainment may be the dangerous bit – 91 dB is lot to expose your ears to. Even the M&Ms agree! Happily, the answer is again a set of earphone sleeves – keeping the nasty noise out means you can keep the nice noise in your ears down and listen in a) comfort b)safety

Just keep your seatbelt on, because you won’t hear the seatbelt sign bonging on and off…

Your local PERFECTfit partner can tell you more.

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