Civil supersonic flight is coming closer to becoming a reality — again. US regulators are looking to expand aircraft noise regulations to accommodate the certification of new supersonic aircraft.
The US Department of Transportation (DoT) is working to update 14 CFR part 36 noise standards to “broaden its applicability, provide definitions, and adopt noise levels and test requirements that would apply to new-design supersonic aircraft.” – according to a statement on the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs website.
Current noise standards of aircraft and airworthiness certification do not apply to supersonic aircraft – with the exception of Concorde.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be working with the DoT to establish the new rules for supersonic flight. Aside from noise certification, the FAA has announced that it is hoping to “streamline and clarify” the procedures needed to conduct supersonic flight-testing.
Right now, the FAA restricts the flying of civil aircraft over US land at speeds exceeding Mach 1 unless the authority specifically authorises it.
Since the European-built Concorde was retired back in 2003, a number of projects have surfaced, all of them hoping to create a more-viable form of supersonic travel.
Among the more-recent projects are the supersonic flight-capable business-jet start-up Aerion and the recently announced X-Plane developed in by NASA and Lockheed Martin. NASA awarded Lockheed with $247 million contract to design an aircraft capable of supersonic speed without creating a sonic boom.
Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is also developing a supersonic business jet. The aircraft will be a civil variant of the Tu-160 supersonic jet – according to Russian News Agency TASS.