The Quesst project, initiated by the United States space agency in 2016, aimed to create an aircraft equipped with technology to minimise the intensity of the sonic boom, which is the audible disturbance on the ground resulting from an aeroplane flying faster than the speed of sound.
They are so potent that it is forbidden to use an aircraft that can produce them above populated areas.
Defence contractor Lockheed Martin developed the X-59 in response to a NASA mission. It is a Concorde-like research aircraft that can fly at 937 mph at an altitude of 55,000 feet without making an unbearable amount of noise.
It intends to carry out test flights over US cities in 2024 to learn more about how the public feels about the noise in the hope that it will inspire upcoming changes to aviation rules.
Supersonic travel, which would allow a jet to fly between 1,500 and 3,000 mph over the Atlantic, has been studied from an economic perspective, according toNASA’s Glenn Research Centre, which made the announcement this past Monday,
Modern large aircraft fly at speeds of about 600 mph and take eight hours to get from London to New York.
As part of a potential road map for making such travel a reality, companies like Boeing and Rolls-Royce have now been contracted to explore design concepts for supersonic passenger jets.
Responsible innovation is essential if we want to benefit travellers and conserve the environment. We are also aware of the need to take societal, economic, safety, and efficiency concerns into account.
‘A new chapter in supersonic flight’
Just weeks before the announcement, the X-59 was moved from its construction site to the so-called flight line, which is the region between the hangar and runway at a Lockheed Martin facility in California.
The company, which was given a £187.5 million contract to develop the aircraft, has begun a number of ground tests in preparation for what may be a trial flight later this year.
The Quesst mission integration manager for NASA, Peter Coen, has stated that his team is “ready to write a new chapter in the history of supersonic flight.”
The first supersonic airliner in the world, Concorde, would be followed by it.
It completed the trip from New York to London in two hours, 52 minutes, and 59 seconds in 1996, setting the record for the quickest commercial flight.
Operators British Airways and Air France grounded the aircraft in 2003, blaming a drop in demand and rising maintenance costs.
Three years after Air France Concorde flight 4590 crashed into a hotel shortly after takeoff from Paris, killing 109 passengers on board and four persons on the ground, the last Concorde made its final flight.
Not just NASA is looking into supersonic commercial aviation.
While Virgin Galactic unveiled plans for a supersonic passenger plane in 2020, United Airlines has joined with startup company Boom Supersonic to perhaps bring it back to travellers.