Lockheed Martin’s mastery of shaping sonic booms may soon pay off for the commercial airline industry.
The defense giant’s work with NASA over the course of decades has allowed engineers to find the “sweet spot” when it comes to designing quieter sonic booms.
Additional advances in technology led it to release details of its 40-passenger quiet supersonic transport (SST).
“We now have the technology to dramatically reduce the impact of those sonic booms that were completely unacceptable from the Concorde,” said Michael Buonanno, Lockheed Martin air vehicle lead for X-59, Aviation Week reported Thursday. “We are shifting the whole design space and proving we can shape sonic booms to make them dramatically quieter,” he says. “Leveraging data from X-59, regulators may replace the current boom with standards that future manufacturers of supersonic airliners could design to. So, this could really usher in a new age of commercial transportation. … “[Our testing] did enable us to come up with a sweet spot in terms of the design.”
The new demonstrator, which is designed for transpacific ranges at Mach 1.8, has a targeted first flight in 2021.
“We’ve been making investments to reduce sonic boom for decades and now we are taking it to the next level,” added Peter Iosifidis, Lockheed program manager for NASA’s Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator, the website reported. “We are taking those results and considering how we can leverage that learning into developing a supersonic product in partnership with somebody or perhaps to license it. We will explore all options.”