Even as it seeks industry input on its plans for a low-boom flight demonstrator, NASA has awarded a series of contracts to progress its research into quiet, clean supersonic transports.
One issue is the potential effect of engine emissions from high-flying aircraft on the upper atmosphere, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been awarded $1.2 million over four years to study the global environmental impact from aircraft cruising supersonically in the stratosphere.
Airport noise is another issue, and NASA has a noise goal of 10 db below Stage 4 for a supersonic transport. GE Global Research Center has been given $599,000 over two years to evaluate low-noise integration concepts and propulsion technologies. University of California, Irvine, has received $575,00 over two years to study quiet-nozzle concepts for low-boom aircraft.
NASA has made enormous progress in developing the tools needed to shape an aircraft to reduce its shock-wave signature, but some aspects need further refinement. Wyle Laboratories has been given $1.2 million over three years to study the influence of turbulence on sonic booms.
Rockwell Collins has received $689,000 and Honeywell $686,000 over two years to develop cockpit displays and pilot interfaces to enable the crew of a supersonic aircraft to visualize the sonic-boom pattern on the ground and modify the flight profile to mitigate the impact.
NASA’s goal remains to fly a subscale low-boom demonstrate to gather data on community response to shaped booms. To that end, Applied Physical Sciences has received $337,000 and Fidell Associates was granted $393,000 to conduct risk-reduction work on sonic boom perception and future community testing.
After the initial year, one of these two companies will be selected to receive another $900,000 for two more years of risk-reduction work. NASA wants to build a single-engine, manned demonstrator with a low-boom-noise level of 75 PLdBbat Mach 14 or faster.