Nasa work on super quiet jet
Nasa is developing a “low boom” supersonic jet which it claims could be “greener, safer and quieter” than some existing forms of air travel.
The plane is being developed under Nasa’s X-Plane programme, which was first established in the 1940s, and will be funded by the Aviation Horizons initiative from the agency’s 2017 budget.
Aviation Horizons aims to “reduce fuel use, emissions and noise through innovations in aircraft design” and says the new design adheres to those aims.
“It’s worth noting that it’s been almost 70 years since Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier as part of our predecessor agency’s high speed research,” said Charles Bolden, Nasa administrator. “Now we’re continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy with this preliminary design award for a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight.”
The programme will seek to develop and build a supersonic jet that is not burdened by the distinctive, and disruptive, “sonic boom” of Concorde — a factor that severely limited flights over land and ultimately killed it as a commercial proposition. Instead, the plane will have a “sonic heartbeat”, which the agency describe as a “soft thump”.
The agency adds that developing a quiet supersonic plane is “the next logical step” in their mission to “open supersonic travel for the flying public”. The plane will undergo extensive and detailed development, “concept formulation” and planning before it is eventually built in 2020.
The new supersonic jet is just one of many aeronautic experiments being undertaken by the agency. It recently unveiled a ten engine drone which combined chopper-esque body and wings with a set of ten drone engines, and is working on an “alternate fuel future” to reduce aircraft emissions. Nasa is also testing new wing shapes to improve the performance of aircraft, purposefully smashing planes into the ground to test their emergency locator transmitters and creating non-stick wings to rid planes of bug guts. Elsewhere, and in slightly less disgusting news, the agency is still working to enable commercial space flight — and its often super-heavy Space Launch System rocket to take humans back to the Moon and, one day, Mars.