Those aspiring to launch supersonic civil aircraft got some encouraging news recently when the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee accepted an amendment to its FAA reauthorization bill that would make it easier to develop and operate such aircraft.

Introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), the amendment would require the FAA to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that specifies an “economically feasible and technologically practical” standard for sonic boom that would allow supersonic flights over the U.S. Supersonic flight by civil aircraft over land is now prohibited, in the U.S. and elsewhere.

In addition, the FAA would also have to specify a standard for takeoff and landing noise for supersonic aircraft that is no more stringent than for large subsonic passenger aircraft flying in the U.S. as of January. This would avoid supersonic aircraft having to meet the lower Chapter 14 noise standards that take effect for aircraft submitted for certification after December.

There is no equivalent language in the House version of the FAA reauthorization bill, so the amendment will have to make it through a House-Senate conference to become enshrined in legislation.