Lockheed Martin Adds Momentum For Supersonic Travel

Lockheed Martin is considering how to build a commercial supersonic aircraft that would draw on the noise-reduction technology it is testing with NASA, making it the latest company aiming to create a market for faster-than-sound travel.

The quiet supersonic technology airliner (QSTA) concept Lockheed announced on 19 June at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Aviation Forum is still at the beginning of the design process.

The Skunk Works division of Lockheed in Palmdale, California is building the X-59 test aircraft for NASA in a separate project. The QSTA would be larger than the X-plane with capacity for 40 people, measuring 69m (225ft) long with a 22m wingspan.

Subsonic commercial flights often travel at a high-altitude cruise speed of Mach 0.85, while the QSTA would be designed to cruise above M1.6 over land and at M1.8 over water, says Michael Buonanno, Lockheed Martin’s lead engineer on the X-59 programme.

Quiet supersonic technology is key to creating a passenger market for such aircraft because the USA has a M1.0 speed limit for flights over land. The ban is intended to prevent the noise created by sonic booms that can be heard up to 25 miles (40km) away.

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