The U.S Air Force have awarded the X-number to NASA’s experimental Super Sonic Transport, the X-59 QueSST is currently being developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin.
At $247.5 million each the project hopes to overcome some of the design limitations of the BAE Systems built Concorde. The Concorde has been retired for nearly 15 years but with the increase in demand for long haul flights this could change air transportation as we know it.
One of the biggest concerns that restricted the Concorde to trans-atlantic routes was the noise, the sonic boom generated by the aircraft as the four Olympus 593 engines pushed it above Mach 1 is best described as a ‘Shotgun Blast’ which restricted it to oceanic flights such as Heathrow to New York.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Project intends to build an aircraft that can supress this sonic boom to a ‘sonic thump’ opening up selected routes all over the world and keeping the aircraft in the skies paying off the expensive price tag!
The Olympus turbojet was also the most un-economical jet engine in the skies with a thermal efficiency of 43%. Technology has come a long way since the first Concorde took flight in 1965 and the X-59 is expected to use one turbojet from GE currently used in the F/A 18 Super hornet producing a maximum thrust of 22,000 lbf.
The aircraft is expected to cruise at Mach 1.42 (1089 mph) while generating as little as 75 dB at 55,000 feet.
The SST is expected to be airworthy by 2023 and if granted the relevant authorisation by the FAA and other international Aeronautics Administrations agencies it should go into production soon after.