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Helping domestic manufacturers

US loosens strict rules for supersonic flights

Civilian supersonic flights were made practically impossible in the US. In this way, the European Concorde was once to be stopped. Now the aviation authority of the US wants to change the rules.

Aerion

Symbolic picture of the civilian supersonic jet Aerion: The FAA wants to adjust the rules.

If you want to take off in the United States with a civil supersonic airplane, you will have a hard time. Since the 1970s, the US has had strict regulations banning flights beyond the sound barrier over land due to the deafening bang. With strict noise requirements, they make it almost impossible for supersonic aircraft to take off at all.

The introduction of the regulations was originally intended to make life difficult for the European Concorde. The counterpart to the never realized American Mach-2 aircraft Boeing 2707 was only allowed to fly within the US with an exception. Since the last flight of the Concorde more than 16 years ago, the regulations have not yet got in the way of any other aircraft.

Authorities expect test flights in the near future

The European jet was the only passenger airplane apart from the Soviet Tupolev Tu-144 that could break the sound barrier. In the near future however, the strict regulations could become a problem again. This time the start-ups Boom and Aerion are working on new supersonic aircraft – both based in the US.

The American aviation authority FAA is therefore now applying for amendments to the law to make it easier for aircraft manufacturers to develop their new supersonic aircraft for the time being. The authority plans to amend two regulations for the time being, as it writes in a press release. One is to be amended to include noise certificates.

Still a lot of noise

The new supersonic aircraft Boom Ouverture and Aerion AS-2 will be significantly quieter than the Concorde thanks to modern engines and new findings in the fields of aerodynamics and acoustics. Nevertheless, they are louder than other aircraft and could reach their limits with the current restrictions for ordinary passenger aircraft.

Another change is intended to make it easier for manufacturers to obtain a permit for test flights of civil supersonic aircraft. This reorganization will be particularly pleasing for Boom. The young company intends to have the smaller test version XB-1 of the planned supersonic passenger aircraft Overturein the air by 2020 – the take-off date had already been changed from 2017 to 2018 and later even to 2019.

Question about the bang still unanswered

Whether supersonic flights over land will be possible in the future, the authority leaves open so far. There are also new approaches to dampening the problematic supersonic boom with sophisticated fuselage shapes. However, it remains unclear whether these solutions can be reconciled with the ever-increasing environmental protection requirements.

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