Is a Mach 4, passenger jet possible? NASA is exploring whether the commercial market could support travel at Mach 4 (3,045 mph) speed.
NASA recently investigated the business case for supersonic passenger air travel aboard aircraft that could theoretically travel between Mach 2 and Mach 4 (1,535-3,045 mph at sea level).
NASA’s studies concluded potential passenger markets exist in about 50 established routes that connect cities. Since the U.S. and other nations prohibit supersonic flight over land, the studies’ findings covered transoceanic travel, including high-volume North Atlantic routes and those crossing the Pacific.
By comparison, today’s larger airliners cruise at roughly 600 mph, or about 80% of the speed of sound.
A separate research effort at NASA, the agency’s Quesst mission, with its X-59 quiet supersonic aircraft, also had its roots in an exploratory research effort. Quesst aims to provide data to regulators that would help change the overland commercial supersonic flight rules. Although unrelated to this new set of studies, Quesst is part of NASA’s supersonic research portfolio.
Lori Ozoroski, project manager for NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology Project, said:
“We conducted similar concept studies over a decade ago at Mach 1.6-1.8, and those resulting roadmaps helped guide NASA research efforts since, including those leading to the X-59. These new studies will both refresh those looks at technology roadmaps and identify additional research needs for a broader high-speed range.”
Image credit NASA