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Light Helicopter Sound for Underwater Acoustics Experiments


The frequency bandwidth of the sound from a light helicopter, such as a Robinson R44, extends from about 13 Hz to 2.5 kHz. As such, the R44 has potential as a low-frequency sound source in underwater acoustics applications. To explore this idea, a series of experiments has been conducted in shallow water off the coast of southern California in which a horizontal line of hydrophones detected the sound of an R44 hovering in an end-fire position relative to the array. Some of the helicopter sound interacted with seabed to excite the head wave in the water column. A theoretical analysis of the sound field in the water column generated by a stationary airborne source leads to an expression for the two-point horizontal coherence function of the head wave, which, apart from frequency, depends only on two parameters: the horizontal separation of the two receivers and the sound speed in the sediment. By matching the zero crossings of the measured and theoretical horizontal coherence functions, the sound speed in the sediment was recovered and found to take a value of 1682.42 ± 16.20 m/s. This is consistent with the sediment type at the experiment site, which is known from a previous survey to be a fine to very- fine sand.

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