Tech

June 20, 2014

NASA Aeronautics makes strides to bring back supersonic passenger travel

NASA F/A-18 mission support aircraft were used to create low-intensity sonic booms during a resaerch project at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. The Waveforms and Sonic boom Perception and Response, or WSPR, project gathered data from a select group of more than 100 volunteer Edwards Air Force Base residents on their individual attitudes toward sonic booms produced by aircraft in supersonic flight over Edwards.

The return of supersonic passenger travel may be coming closer to reality thanks to NASA’s efforts to define a new standard for low sonic booms.

Several NASA aeronautics researchers will present their work in Atlanta this week at Aviation 2014, an annual event of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. They will share with the global aviation community the progress they are making in overcoming some of the biggest hurdles to supersonic passenger travel.

The research generates data crucial for developing a low-boom standard for the civil aviation industry. NASA works closely with the Federal Aviation Administration and the international aerospace community, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, to gather data and develop new procedures and requirements that may help in a reconsideration of the current ban on supersonic flight over land.

“Lessening sonic booms – shock waves caused by an aircraft flying faster than the speed of sound – is the most significant hurdle to reintroducing commercial supersonic flight,” said Peter Coen, head of the High Speed Project in NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “Other barriers include high altitude emissions, fuel efficiency and community noise around airports.”

Engineers at NASA centers in California, Ohio and Virginia that conduct aviation research are tackling sonic booms from a number of angles, including how to design a low-boom aircraft and characterize the noise. NASA researchers have studied how to quantify the loudness and annoyance of the boom by asking people to listen to the sounds in a specially designed noise test chamber.

A recent flight research campaign at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, had residents explore ways to assess the public’s response to sonic booms in a real-world setting. Researchers at Armstrong have an advantage – pilots are permitted to fly at supersonic speeds because the facility is located on Edwards Air Force Base.

“People here are more familiar with sonic booms,” said Armstrong aerospace engineer Larry Cliatt. “Eventually, we want to take this to a broader level of people who have never heard a sonic boom.”

Similar work is conducted at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where volunteers from the local community rated sonic booms according to how disruptive they determined the sound to be.

“They each listened to a total of 140 sounds, and based on their average response, we can begin to estimate the general public’s reactions,” explained Langley acoustics engineer Alexandra Loubeau.

She also conducted a study at Langley comparing results from tools used to predict sonic boom noise at ground-level.

“Because of the interaction with the atmosphere, it is important to be as consistent as possible in the implementation and usage of these tools. The comparisons done so far have shown good agreement, but there are some inconsistencies that need to be studied,” Loubeau said.

Other studies are focused on predicting the sonic boom and on design approaches to reducing it. Participants from Japan, the United States and France attended the first Sonic Boom Prediction Workshop, where they evaluated simple configurations – cylindrical bodies with and without wings – and complex full aircraft designs.

“We are working to understand the worldwide state of the art in predicting sonic booms from an aircraft point of view,” said Mike Park, a fluid mechanics engineer at Langley. “We found for simple configurations we can analyze and predict sonic booms extremely well. For complex configurations we still have some work to do.”

Wind tunnels are another tool used to help predict which airplane designs might have quieter booms. The most recent tests were conducted at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.  Similar to designs of the past, current aircraft designs being tested are characterized by a needle-like nose, a sleek fuselage and a delta wing or highly-swept wings – shapes that result in much lower booms.

NASA and industry engineers say they believe supersonic research has progressed to the point where the design of a practical low-boom supersonic jet is within reach.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Navy photograph

NAWCWD manned for unmanned systems

Navy photograph A rail launch is performed during Integrator unmanned aerial vehicle testing at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division China Lake, Calif. Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division scientists, engineers, techn...
 
 
NASA photograph by Ken Ulbrich

NASA employees go ‘above and beyond’

Courtesy photograph NASA Chief Scientist Albion Bowers, Christopher Miller and Nelson Brown receive the Exception Engineering Achievement Medal at Armstrong Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The prestigious award ...
 
 
Photograph by Tom Reynolds

Engineers, test pilots enjoy Mojave tradition

Photograph by Tom Reynolds Engineer and pilot students who recently graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School from Patuxent River, Md., and the USAF Test Pilot school at Edwards AFB kept with a 17 year old tradition, enjo...
 

 
nasa-global-hawk

Global Hawk 872 return marks 100th NASA flight

  NASA Global Hawk No. 872 is pictured on the ramp after landing at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Va., at sunrise following its 10th and final science flight Sept. 28–29 in the agency’s 2014 Hurricane and S...
 
 

Northrop Grumman hand held precision targeting device completes successful developmental test

A new hand held targeting system developed by Northrop Grumman that will enable soldiers to engage targets with precision munitions while providing digital connectivity to related military units has successfully completed developmental testing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The evaluation of the company’s Hand Held Precision Targeting Device, or HHPTD, was conducted...
 
 
Photograph by Linda KC Reynolds

Educating future workers

Photograph by Linda KC Reynolds Antelope Valley College physics professor Christos Valiotis and assistant headmaster at the Palmdale Aerospace Academy, Matthew Winheim, speak at the Antelope Valley Board of Trade Luncheon. The ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>