May 11, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
Certification of the $80-million Aerion supersonic business jet could occur in 2015 if current development plans and discussions with contractors and governments go well. In the case of the FAA, it’s all about the boom.
The FAA’s Office of Aviation Policy, Planning, and Environment plans to call a third hearing soon on the topic of sonic booms over populated areas. The United States is the only country to prohibit Mach 1.0 flight over land, Aerion officials said in a press release. The FAA had requested more information on Reno, Nevada-based company’s plans for Mach cut-off, meaning supersonic cruise at Mach 1.15 but with no audible disturbance. By adjusting cruise speed based on temperature data, the sonic shock wave can be prevented from hitting the ground, Aerion officials believe, and will dissipate by a few thousand feet above the ground.
Aerion is in discussions with potential manufacturers of the eight- to 12-passenger jet that is claimed to reduce a New York to Paris flight to four hours and 15 minutes. Approach speeds will be 120 knots, and the range is projected to be 4,000 nm at supersonic speeds, or 4,500 nm at subsonic speeds. The goal is to operate from 6,000-foot runways.
A series of flight and wind tunnel tests are planned for this year. A McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F–15 fighter will be used for testing late this year at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in addition to wind tunnel testing. The purpose of the tests is to refine the shape of strakes, flaps, elevators, rudder, and engine integration. The data will be used to set production standards. A wing section will be carried aloft to test laminar flow predictions.
The FAA has asked the National Transportation Safety Board to review a judge’s ruling reversing a fine it levied in an unmanned-aircraft case.
The Tucson Soaring Club is trying to grow the sport by training the next generation of glider pilots.
Able Flight has received and $8,000 check from the AOPA Foundation.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.