NASA is developing a new aircraft that can fly twice the speed of existing commercial airlines. It’s fast and supersonic, only quieter. Dubbed as the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator aircraft, this new plane can fly at the maximum speed of 1,100 miles per hour, or twice as fast as the Concorde airplane. This plane is even faster than the speed of sound that is 767 mph. The funding for this programme received a full backing from the US government in the recently approved 2019 national budget. Nasa is expecting to fly this new supersonic aircraft by 2021. Potential commercial flights would follow.
“This ‘X-plane’ would open a new market for US companies to build faster commercial airliners, creating jobs and cutting cross-country flight times in half,” states to the budget document. Supersonic aircraft, though faster than the speed of sound, has a downside: the loud sonic boom from waves of pressure from air particles created by the plane. This booming sound that rolls out like a carpet beneath the plane is so loud and deafening that it can even cause property damage and that would be a problem when supersonic planes travel above land.
The technology for supersonic planes previously existed. In fact, the British Airways and Air France-run Concorde turbo-jet powered supersonic passenger jets were in operation until 2003. The Concorde aircraft had a maximum speed of 1,354 miles per hour or 2,180 kilometres per hour at a cruising altitude. Under its New Aviation Horizon Initiative, Nasa is already testing an experimental aircraft called Quiet Supersonic Technology. This aircraft produces shock waves resembling thumping or rumbling sounds and not loud booms.