#Techtuesdays : NASA Works Towards Making Quieter, Greener Supersonic Passenger Jets

supersonic jets

In a bid to make flights cleaner, greener, safer, and of course faster, NASA has launched its New Aviation Horizons initiative. Through this enterprise, NASA plans to launch supersonic passenger jets which are commercially viable and addresses the growing demand for high-speed air transit.

Since 1973, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned the use of supersonic travel on U.S soil. But as NASA calls for bids for model planes which will reduce the sonic boom, there are high chances of this ban being lifted in time to facilitate the NASA initiative. The aviation industry is diligently looking for ways in which air travel can be improved and simplified without having any major repercussions on the environment.

Supersonic passenger jets : A flashback

Transporting people at speeds greater than the speed of sound is the ultimate USP of supersonic passenger jets. The ground-level disturbances caused by these jets resulted in the shattering of window panes, cracking of plasters, and maddening of farm animals – which ultimately led to the ban of these jets.

Until recently the three major obstacles in supersonic travel have been:

  1. Sound boom
  2. High carbon emissions
  3. Airport engine noise

Of all these three, it is the boom which has been a major concern. GE has been working on designs which can quiet the airport engine, and a major funding has facilitated an MIT study to understand and address the environmental impact of supersonic passenger jets.

NASA on its part is now focusing on designing engine models that will improve the overall performance of the supersonic passenger jets without causing any harmful side-effects. In fact, its target is to bring the sound levels to 60-65 A-weighted decibels (dBa). Sustainable travel solutions are thus the key to bringing supersonic air travel back into the commercial aviation industry.

Market insights will help the supersonic business jet market take off

Technavio’s market research reveals that the demand for greater speed backed with evolution of lightweight composites and aerodynamics have been the major drivers in the global supersonic business jet market. With foremost players like Lockheed Martin, Aerion Corporation, and Aernnova, already making major investments in this area, industry analysts at Technavio expect the corresponding global market to witness a steady growth in the next five years. And as NASA takes up the job to make the jets go quieter, optimism flies high with regards to the future of this very competitive industry.