Supersonic Passenger travel

NASA’s new efforts to define a new standard for low sonic booms, will mark the return of supersonic passenger travel.

Above image: This rendering shows The Boeing Company’s future supersonic advanced concept featuring two engines above the fuselage. Image Credit: NASA/Boeing.
Top image: This rendering shows the Lockheed Martin future supersonic advanced concept featuring two engines under the wings and one on top of the fuselage (not visible in this image). Image Credit: NASA/Lockheed Martin.



Several NASA aeronautics researchers will present their work in Atlanta this week at Aviation 2014, an annual event of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. They will share with the global aviation community the progress they are making in overcoming some of the biggest hurdles to supersonic passenger travel.

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The Lockheed concept model undergoes Phase II testing in NASA Ames’ supersonic wind tunnel. The small dots are “boundary layer trip dots” used by researchers to “trip” the air flow on the model from laminar (smooth) to turbulent—allowing better predictions of airflow and sonic boom characteristics. Image Credit: NASA/Dominic Hart

The research generates data crucial for developing a low-boom standard for the civil aviation industry. NASA works closely with the Federal Aviation Administration and the international aerospace community, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, to gather data and develop new procedures and requirements that may help in a reconsideration of the current ban on supersonic flight over land.

Peter Coen, head of the High Speed Project in NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington, said:

“Lessening sonic booms — shock waves caused by an aircraft flying faster than the speed of sound — is the most significant hurdle to reintroducing commercial supersonic flight. Other barriers include high altitude emissions, fuel efficiency and community noise around airports.”



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Inside NASA Ames’ 9- by 7-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel, researcher Don Durston inspects the mounting hardware for the 16-inch scale model of the Boeing concept. Image Credit: NASA/Dominic Hart

Armstrong aerospace engineer Larry Cliat, said:

“People here are more familiar with sonic booms. Eventually, we want to take this to a broader level of people who have never heard a sonic boom.”

Explained Langley acoustics engineer Alexandra Loubeau, explains:

“They each listened to a total of 140 sounds, and based on their average response, we can begin to estimate the general public’s reactions.”

She also conducted a study at Langley comparing results from tools used to predict sonic boom noise at ground-level.

“Because of the interaction with the atmosphere, it is important to be as consistent as possible in the implementation and usage of these tools. The comparisons done so far have shown good agreement, but there are some inconsistencies that need to be studied,” she added.

Mike Park, a fluid mechanics engineer at Langley, said

“We are working to understand the worldwide state of the art in predicting sonic booms from an aircraft point of view. We found for simple configurations we can analyze and predict sonic booms extremely well. For complex configurations we still have some work to do.”

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Inside Glenn’s 8- by 6-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel, technician Dan Pitts inspects Boeing’s 1.79% scale model, which shows the two installed flow-through nacelles. Image Credit: NASA/Quentin Schwinn

source NASA