New Concorde: NASA to beat US supersonic flight ban after 2,179mph ‘X-plane’ BREAKTHROUGH Latest News

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New Concorde: NASA to beat US supersonic flight ban after 2,179mph ‘X-plane’ BREAKTHROUGH Latest News

NASA is among a number of organisations – including Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic – trying to bring back commercial air travel faster than the speed of sound.

The chance to fly between London and New York in three and a half hours has remained a dream since the 1,354mph Concorde retired 14 years ago – until now.

One of the key drags on the return of commercial flights greater than the speed of sound is a US ban on supersonic speeds on overland routes.

The ban was introduced in the 1970s after residents complained about the sonic booms when the aircraft broke the sound barrier.

But the US space agency is hoping to overturn the ruling by designing a plane that brings boom volumes down to an acceptable level.


Illustration of NASA’s planned Low Boom Flight Demonstration aircraftNASA


NEW CONCORDE: Illustration of NASA’s planned Low Boom Flight Demonstration aircraft


“The potential for supersonic flight could increase dramatically”


Tim Robinson

Industry experts think if NASA can reverse the ban, the potential for the return of supersonic flight will increase “dramatically”.

A NASA spokesman said: “NASA’s Quiet SuperSonic Technology Preliminary Design – or QueSST – has brought the agency ever closer to making the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration aircraft – or LBFD – a reality.

“Decades of NASA research in supersonics have gone into the unique design of NASA’s next X-plane, including numerous efforts under the Commercial Supersonic Technology project.”

The space agency is using futurist technology to reduce sonic booms – which are audio shockwaves that sound like an explosion.

It is using the sun as a background and special photography methods, called Schlieren photography, to take pictures of the sound waves.

The X-plane will have swept back wings with rough patches on them to reduce drag.

The pilot will have a cockpit display that shows the directions the plane is firing out sonic booms – allowing him or her to direct them away from built-up areas.


An Air Force Test Pilot School T-38 passes in front of the sun at supersonic speed, creating shockwaves that are captured using schlieren photography to visualize supersonic flowNASA


PICTURE SOUND: Schlieren photography captures the shockwaves of an aircraft in front of the sun


NASA’s Quiet SuperSonic Technology Preliminary DesignNASA


SWEPT BACK: The QueSST has special design features to reduce the effect of sonic booms

Brett Pauer, manager of NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology project, said: “The display is there to minimise the impact of sonic booms on the ground.

“Sonic booms generally don’t cause damage at higher altitudes, but they can disturb people, and we want to make sure that we are good stewards to the public.

“The use of this software allows pilots to maximize their flight, and still not bother people on the ground, if used properly.”

NASA hopes full flight tests of QueSST – which will be capable of 2,179mph – could begin in 2021.

It has already carried out a series of sonic boom test flights at the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, in August.

US President Donald Trump has included funding for the first year of prototype construction in the 2018 budget.

Tim Robinson, editor of Aerospace magazine, told inews: “The potential for supersonic flight could increase dramatically.”

The breakthrough could open the door wider to a host of other firms racing to produce supersonic jets.


A QueSST prototype is tested in a wind tunnelNASA


TEST: A QueSST prototype is prepared for testing in a wind tunnel

Boom – founded by former Amazon boss Blake Scholl – promises speeds of 1,677mph and three-and—half-hour flights between London and New York for £1,900 ($2,500) each way.

It hopes to have a prototype – dubbed “Baby Boom” – ready before 2019 and its first passengers on board by 2023.

Virgin Galactic has expressed interest in snapping up 10 of Boom’s planes.

Spike Aerospace held a test flight of an unmanned prototype of its 18-passenger S-512 Quiet Supersonic Jet this month.

It said the flight was a “huge success”.

The firm Aerion is planning to get its 12-seat supersonic jet airborne in four years.

It would probably be aimed at private and charter jet market, rather than scheduled airline flights.

New Concorde: NASA to beat US supersonic flight ban after 2,179mph ‘X-plane’ BREAKTHROUGH Latest News

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New Concorde: NASA to beat US supersonic flight ban after 2,179mph 'X-plane' BREAKTHROUGH Latest News

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