NASA and Lockheed Martin are conducting highly technical tests on a new generation of planes that can travel at supersonic speeds yet emit minimal noise that may be barely discernable to the public, it has been reported.
The tests for the Quiet Supersonic Technology plane or the QueSST X-Plane, as the new planes are technically known is said to be at the advanced stage of the testing process.
According to Ray Castner, one of the NASA engineers who has been working on the propulsion aspects of the new plane, NASA and Lockheed Martin are testing how the new-look plane performs under different wind conditions when flying.
‘We shall be testing the performance of the new plane in terms of drag, lift, and its overall performance when in flight, given that it will experience varying levels of wind effects when flying,’ he added.
In the recent past, NASA, under the New Aviation Horizons initiative, or the NAH, has been engaged in a project to revolutionise the shape and look of aircraft.
The institution has been motivated by the desire to develop planes that can travel faster than the speed of sound yet emit minimal noise.
‘The challenge has been and still remains to shape the plane in such a manner that it managed to overcome the effects of wind attack when it is in flight but at the same time emit minimal noise that people on the ground can hardly detect,’ says Glen Stark who is one of the managers at the Glenn Research Centre.
The NASA-owned Glenn Research centre was chosen for the tests because it has a huge tube specially-designed to test the aerodynamic aspects of various plane designs.
Under the current project, Lockheed Martin has designed a new type of plane that it believes can be the answer to the problem of reducing the sonic blast of supersonic plans.
According to details provided by NASA, the current testing process is expected to be completed by mid-2017.
It is expected that NASA will award Lockheed Martin another contract to refine the design of the X-plane in preparation for developing a commercial version of the plane.
NASA further says that it expects the new-look supersonic plane to take off to the skies by 2020. If this happens, it will be a revolutionary step towards developing high-speed but amazingly quiet supersonic planes for commercial use.