Honeywell, NASA get closer to wider adoption of supersonic flight

PARIS AIR SHOW. Honeywell and NASA announced the completion of a two-year test to determine the most effective way to show pilots flying supersonic jets where people on the ground may hear sonic booms; the technology may potentially eliminate one of the primary barriers to the broad adoption of supersonic flight.

The /NASA testing program integrates predictive software and display technology into smaller jet cockpits, demonstrating how pilots can see where and how sonic booms would affect the population on the ground. While flying at supersonic speeds would change the aviation industry drastically -- enabling pilots to cut jet travel times roughly in half -- the primary barrier to broad adoption of supersonic flights over land are sonic booms, loud noises caused by aircraft traveling faster than the speed of sound.

NASA has worked over a number of years to develop the Cockpit Interactive Sonic Boom Display Avionics software, which predicts sonic boom impact from an aircraft's current position and flight parameters. As part of the announcement of the completion of the two-year test program, Honeywell and NASA integrated the software with Honeywell's Interactive Navigation technology into a  business jet's avionics suite. The integration provides the pilot with actionable information and visuals to assess the boom impact of a flight plan and displays alternate trajectories before the boom is generated, preventing the loud sound from disturbing populated areas.

Brett Pauer, commercial supersonic technology subproject manager, Overland , NASA, said of the two-year project: "We are pleased to complete this important milestone of the pilot interface testing in civilian airspace with Honeywell. This technology could prove to be useful for NASA's future planned Low Boom Flight Demonstration experimental airplane. This plane is being designed to gather community noise response data that may help remove the regulatory speed restriction to overland commercial supersonic flight."

Artist’s concept of a possible Low Boom Flight Demonstration Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) X-plane design. Art courtesy Lockheed Martin.

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