Nasa plans to test its supersonic aircraft over residents in Texas to gauge noise levels in its latest move towards commercially viable supersonic flights. "We won't have a noise monitor on their shoulder inside their home", Alexandra Loubeau, NASA's team lead for sonic boom community response research at Langley, Virginia, said in a statement.
Now flying supersonic aircraft over land is prohibited - due to shock waves that are formed at supersonic speed glider perceived by people on the ground like an explosion.
This experimental project was formerly called X-plane (like in Star Wars) or "Low-Flight Flight Demonstrator".
According to the report, from November onwards, F/A-18 Hornets will be create regular sonic booms over the water near Galveston, a town in Texas, as well as quieter sonic "thumps" directly over the town. That's because new supersonic planes are being developed that can revolutionize commercial flights, and NASA wants to find out if the noise levels those supersonic aircraft put out will be off-putting to people on the ground. Once the aircraft has finally been constructed and its noise credentials established, NASA says it'll carry out test flights over other U.S. towns and gather intelligence from the ground.
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Some background: Supersonic travel over land has been banned in the U.S. since 1973, owing to the huge noise produced when a plane breaks the sound barrier. But the airplane's shape is carefully tailored such that the shockwaves do not combine.
"Instead of getting a loud boom-boom, you're going to get at least two quiet thump-thump sounds, if you even hear them at all". They are being fronted with funds by Japan Airlines, who issued the company $10 million for their supersonic endeavor.
"With the X-59 you're still going to have multiple shockwaves because of the wings on the aircraft that create lift and the volume of the plane".
Meanwhile Spike Aerospace is hoping to test its S-512 Supersonic Jet by the end of 2018.
"This is why the F/A-18 is so important to us as a tool", Haering said. However, you won't be seeing the X-59 to fly anytime soon.