NASA Pitches In To End Overland Supersonic Flight Ban

 - June 17, 2014, 3:20 PM
Over the years, NASA has tested technologies, such as Gulfstream’s Quiet Spike, that could facilitate low- or no-boom supersonic aircraft. Now the agency is also focusing on how people on the ground perceive low sonic booms in an effort to create a standard for the civil aviation industry that could prompt regulators to allow low-boom supersonic flight over land. (Photo: NASA)

In a move that could help pave the way for low-boom supersonic flight over land, NASA aeronautics researchers are presenting their work on how people on the ground perceive low sonic booms this week in Atlanta at an annual event held by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “Lessening sonic booms is the most significant hurdle to [civil] supersonic flight,” said Peter Coen, head of the high-speed project in NASA’s aeronautics research mission directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Engineers at NASA centers in California, Ohio and Virginia that conduct aviation research are tackling sonic booms from a number of angles, including how to design a low-boom aircraft and characterize the noise. NASA researchers have studied how to quantify the loudness and annoyance of the boom by asking people to listen to the sounds in a specially designed noise test chamber.

“The research generates data crucial for developing a low-boom standard for the civil aviation industry,” NASA said. The agency will continue to work closely with the FAA, ICAO and other international aviation bodies to gather data and develop new procedures and requirements that “might help in a reconsideration of the current ban on supersonic flight over land.”