Published: Thu, April 05, 2018
Finance | By Cynthia Curry

NASA hires Lockheed Martin to build a quiet, supersonic jet

NASA hires Lockheed Martin to build a quiet, supersonic jet

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works will begin in April designing the experimental aircraft, which will cruise at 55,000 feet at a speed of about 940 miles per hour.

The X-plane will create a "gentle thump", a sound that would be no louder than closing a vehicle door.

This data set will help United States and other global regulators to choose supersonic travel and may welcome commercial markets in faster-than-sound air travel.

Nasa is looking to foster technology that can overcome noise restrictions on supersonic flight, which has been banned overland for commercial planes since 1973. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company was selected for the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration contract, a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract valued at $247.5 million. Lockheed Martin has a long history of working with NASA and has been part of NASA's QueSST effort since 2016.

"It is super exciting to be back designing and flying X-planes at this scale", Jaiwon Shin, NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics, said in a news release.

Supersonic flight over land is now restricted due to noise concerns, one of several factors that reduced Concorde's appeal to commercial airlines. Then, the US' Federal Aviation Administration would have to change rules in order to allow for supersonic flights over land.

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NASA's goal is to not produce a sonic boom at all, but something that sounds more like a soft thud.

Gulfstream, a unit of General Dynamics Corp, has said it won't attempt to build a supersonic aircraft until it's cleared to fly open-throttle over land and sea. They've awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin Skunk Works to create the next X-plane.

As you can see there's a long way to go before a quiet supersonic jet is even built and tested, but the work is underway.

The former pilot said he was unconvinced that the X-plane's primary sonic booms will be quieter than Concorde's troublesome secondary booms.

Once it has passed all the requirements set, the X-plane will be flown over select cities and data will be collected from communities and responses taken from everyday people about the flight.

The sound level these folks are going for is 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB).

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