by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

As Honorary Chair of Quiet American Skies, a program of Quiet Communities, I am familiar with the aircraft and helicopter noise complaints of residents across the country and can more than underscore the statement in Katherine Gammon’s article in Discover Magazine that “thousands of noise complaints are lodged to the Federal Aviation Administration each year.” Sadly, our skies will soon be filled with drones as Gammon writes.

What will these drones sound like? Aerospace engineer Daniel Cuppoletti asks people to think of the noise of one helicopter over their homes and then “imagine having 1,000 helicopters fly over (in) one day.” With aviation noise linked to adverse mental and physical health effects, I would think that that there is much to be concerned about as our society plans to prepare for this “new aviation market.”

Well aware of the noise drones create, aerospace engineer Cuppoletti and his students are researching ways to reduce it. He hopes the models they create will assist drone manufacturers in being cognizant of noise as they plan for the future use of drones to deliver “medical parcels versus delivering pizza.” Cuppoletti states that “if you don’t think about noise until after you’ve optimized the engine for efficiency, you’re in trouble.”

While it was good to read Cuppoletti’s statements and learn about his group’s testing of how individuals respond to drone sounds, I am still not confident that the appropriate noise-controlling measures will be in place when the drones begin to fill our skies. Furthermore, there is also the issue of safety which has been addressed in other articles.

And finally, a signficant point that no one has apparently considered: Do we need a sky filled with pizza-delivery drones?