NASA seeks to build a quieter supersonic plane for passenger flight

Geronimo Vena
Luglio 25, 2017

NASA is developing a prototype "low boom" supersonic plane that could cut the six-hour flight from NY to Los Angeles by half.

The plan is to create a commercially viable aircraft that can help address the growing demand for high-speed air transit, which is encouraged by trends like distributed workforces and global corporate conglomerates.

When I spoke to Boom CEO Blake Scholl earlier this year, he confirmed that one of their challenges coming to market would be reducing the noise of the engine used in their final plane, which is partly responsible for regulations that prevent supersonic flight over land in the U.S. Boom's initial routes are all cross-ocean, so that it can work on addressing those regulations (in place since the Concorde's active years) before adding other routes.

NASA Administrator Charles Boden said at the launch at Washington National Airport: "NASA is working hard to make flight greener, safer and quieter - all while developing aircraft that travel faster, and building an aviation system that operates more efficiently".

Peter Coen, the project manager of NASA's commercial supersonic research team (seen below), told Bloomberg that his team is aiming for a sound level between 60 and 65 A-weighted decibels (dBa), which is roughly as loud as the sound of a luxury auto driving on the highway.

"Now you're getting down to that level where, as far as approval from the general public, it would probably be something that's acceptable", said project manager for NASA's commercial supersonic research team.

By comparison, Concorde's sound levels were 90dBa.

The US ban was part of the reason Concorde never made money for British Airways or Air France and was taken out of service in 2003.

NASA plans to test the prototype X-plane in the airspace of up to six communities starting in 2022, according to the report.

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