Supersonic business jet makes “validating” test flights


Supersonic business jet pioneer Spike Aerospace says its aircraft design has been validated by a successful series of test flights at the weekend.

SA’s subsonic subscale SX-1.2 demonstrator aircraft flew for the first time on Saturday, in seven short flights designed to test its design and flight controls. Its centre of mass, balance and control surfaces were adjusted after each flight, and additional performance data collected.

The aircraft is an early unmanned prototype of SA’s 18-passenger S-512 Quiet Supersonic Jet, being developed in partnership with top aerospace firms including Siemens, Maya and Aernova. SA plans to have the S-512 – which it says can fly from NYC to LAX in three hours with no sonic boom – flying by early 2021, and to be delivering aircraft to customers in 2023.

An SA spokesman said: “The SX-1.2 test flights proved that the aerodynamic design of the aircraft is valid and provided a tremendous amount of data regarding the flight characteristics of the aircraft.”

The test aircraft was piloted by Krishnakumar Malu, at a private airfield in New England. He said: “These test flights are providing incredibly valuable information, which we can use to refine the design. I am very excited about how helpful these test will be to our supersonic development programme.”

And SA president and CEO Vik Kachoria added: “The SX-1.2 test flights were conducted in a real-world situation, and provide significantly more data than wind tunnel tests done in an artificial environment. We were able to test not only handling but also a range of other considerations.”

SA is now planning to modify the aircraft based on data collected during the weekend’s test flights, and will make more test flights early next month. It has begun working on the next in the demonstrator series – the SX-1.3.