The Concorde from the 1960’s was the first foray into supersonic commercial travel, but noise from the sonic boom ultimately led to a ban on supersonic aircraft for commercial flights. NASA has partnered with Lockheed Martin to produce an improved supersonic jet.
The main goal for the design is to reduce the loudness of the sonic boom when the aircraft is flying faster than the speed of sound. To combat the causes of this phenomenon, engineers are testing different contours for plane surfaces and materials in hopes of a boom at the volume of a car door closing at ground level.
Further improvements to be made will reduce the amount of fuel used while in flight, sometimes up to 300% the usage for the same distance traveled by current jets. It will be a balancing act between fuel efficiency and passenger load as Peter Coen, supersonic project manager at NASA, states.
“You want to make the airplane as thin, light and small volume as possible. That’s good for physics, but bad for business. A tiny, skinny airplane can’t carry a lot of people, and might not make economic sense.”
Click here for the full article on Wired.