Lock­heed Martin’s QUESST for supersonic travel

Pilot - - NOTES -

Lock­heed Martin is com­plet­ing pre­lim­i­nary de­sign of a ‘low-boom’ flight demon­stra­tor as part of NASA’S Quiet Supersonic Trans­port (QUESST) project. The sin­gle-engine, Mach 1.4-plus X-plane is in­tended to mimic the shock­wave sig­na­ture of a 100-120-seat supersonic air­liner and show that a shaped sonic boom is quiet enough to per­mit supersonic flight over land. Gulfstream Aero­space, which is part of NASA’S con­sult­ing re­view panel on the project, has been con­duct­ing its own pre­lim­i­nary de­sign stud­ies for a supersonic busi­ness jet. “The abil­ity to fly supersonic over land will be the game changer for supersonic busi­ness jets, but that’s not likely to hap­pen for an­other ten to fif­teen years,” says Se­nior Vice-pres­i­dent for Pro­grams Dan Nale. “That’s the ear­li­est the ICAO process can change the rules to al­low it.” Gulfstream be­lieves that the sonic boom and engine emis­sions from fly­ing that fast at al­ti­tude will be the two ma­jor is­sues to overcome, and that the air­craft must be shaped to min­imise the boom, to which end it has test flown an ex­tend­ing nose on a NASA F-15. NASA plans to fly a pro­to­type X-plane in 2019 and be­gin ‘com­mu­nity ac­cep­tance test­ing’ a year later.

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