A quieter supersonic aeroplane infographic
Graphic shows the test aircraft that could spawn a new era of supersonic domestic air travel.
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AVIATION

‘Son of Concorde’ test flights could begin in summer

By Ninian Carter

January 31, 2022 - NASA and Lockheed Martin are building a unique aircraft intended to reduce a sonic “boom” to a sonic “thump”, thanks to a very long nose that will reshape shock waves during supersonic flight.

By the end of the summer 2022, Lockheed Martin and NASA hope to begin test flying a unique aircraft called the X-59 QueSST (a mashup of Quiet Supersonic Technology).

The plane’s function is to break the sound barrier as quietly as possible, so that rather than create a 110 decibel sonic boom that sounds like an explosion or thunderclap, it instead creates a thump that sounds like a car door shutting – around 75 decibels.

The X-59 sports several distinct features not found on military or commercial aircraft such as an elongated nose (about 11 metres long) and a cockpit with not forward view, meaning the pilot has to rely on a video feed from two external cameras to see out front – making take-off and landing particularly anxious moments.

If tests are successful, it could lead to the lifting of a ban on supersonic travel over the United States, and lay the groundwork for a future commercial supersonic passenger jet – or the “son of Concorde” as it is often affectionately referred to.

Sources
PUBLISHED: 31/01/2022; STORY: Graphic News
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