NASA chooses Lockheed Martin to build quieter supersonic aircraft

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

A contract has been awarded to Lockheed Martin by NASA to design, build and test a supersonic aircraft that reduces the sonic boom to a gentle thump, in another step toward re-introducing supersonic flight.

Work on the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration contract, valued at $247.5 million has begun and will run to 31 December, 2021.

Under this contract, Lockheed Martin will complete the design and fabrication of an experimental aircraft (X-plane) which is expected to cruise at 55,000 feet at a speed of around 940mph and create a sound about as loud as a car door closing, 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB), instead of a sonic boom.

Once the aircraft is delivered in late 2021, NASA will perform additional flight tests to prove the quiet supersonic technology works as designed, the aircraft performance is robust, and it’s safe to operate in the National Airspace System.

Beginning in mid-2022, NASA will fly the X-plane over select US cities and collect data about community responses to the flights. This data set will be provided to US and international regulators for their use in considering new sound-based rules regarding supersonic flight over land, which could enable new commercial cargo and passenger markets in faster-than-sound air travel.

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