Supersonic air travel might be possible again…

Today we will be discussing, supersonic speed, the first commercially viable supersonic jet Concorde, Why was the Concorde retired?, and startups like Boom Supersonic are working in the aviation sector to make supersonic air travel possible again.

Supersonic Speed

When an object travels faster than the speed of sound, the speed at which it travels is called supersonic speed. Speed of sound vary with temperature and humidity of the environment, but for dry conditions and 20 degree Celcius the calculated speed of sound is 344 m/s.

When the travelling speed of an object is fives times that of the speed of sound this speed is called hypersonic.


Supersonic waves

Acoustic waves travel at the speed of sound, these are longitudnal waves travel through the medium by forming compressions and rarefactions in he medium. Ultrasonic waves are a type of acoustic waves, they have very high frequency and human beings cannot hear them. Infrasonic waves have low frequency which can be heard by human beings.

Subsonic waves travels slower than acoustic waves whereas supersonic waves travels faster than acoustic waves.


Travel by Supersonic Aircraft and Supersonic Jet

The trail of supersonic air travel started when two Supersonic aircraft Concorde and the Tupolev Tu-144, were made available for civil purposes in the airline. Concorde had a cruising speed of 1354 miles/hour which is twice the speed of sound. The final flight of Concorde was in 2003.

Now about half a dozen startups are gambling on the return of supersonic air travel because supersonic air travel is cruising back into popularity.

Supersonic jets were all the rage in the 1960s when testing first began with the commercial flights. Only one plane saw a long-term commercial success which the Concorde because of the high cost of the planes, and pollution it causes to the environment. The Concorde was the collaboration between the French and British companies. The Concorde’s maiden voyage in 1976 kicked off a new era of luxury air travel.

Why was the Concorde retired?

The Concorde went out of buisiness when a Conccorde jet operated by Air France blew up shortly after takeoff. 113 people were killed in that flight in July of 2000. In just a year later the September 11th attacks caused a major setback for the entire aviation industry the Concorde never recovered.


New Projects of Supersonic Jets

15 years later in 2013 NASA started funding a few research projects aimed at reviving the Supersonics. The project tackled a different technical challenge facing supersonic travel, for example, plenty of people want to fly faster than sound, no wants those planes flying over their homes. In fact, Congress passed a law in 1973 banning supersonic flights from the US soil because supersonic jets create a trail of deafening sound called a boom carpet. As the plane’s nose pushes into the air it flings aside air molecules and waves and pressure like a boat creating awake when those waves hit the landscape they create a loud booming noise that could sometimes damage property.

NASA wants to figure out, how to muffle the sonic boom in its initial test between Texas and Florida since air behaves differently at different temperatures and different humidity. It awarded a 247.5 million dollar contract to Lockheed Martin to develop a quiter supersonic plane. Because of consistent tests and research, the FAA is considering the ban on civil supersonic flight which was put on in 1973. Supersonic air travel, it seems to be coming back into vogue.

Samuel Hammond is a research fellow at a libertarian think-tank that specializes in aviation theory. A couple of years ago he and his colleague published a paper called make America boom again. He thinks supersonic air travel could create new global possibilities far beyond more simple business travel. All this explains how super Sonics are coming back, the reason why is less scientific chiefly, because very rich people want faster private jets.

One company Arian a start-up designing supersonic business for General Electric. Lockhead Martin, the winner of the huge NASA contract is helping design and produce Aryans as2 plane. The startup is targeting 2023 for its first flight followed by a commercial debut in 2025.

Boom Supersonic

Another major player is Boom Supersonic, a startup based in Colorado that’s building a fleet of supersonic jets for Virgin Airlines. Blake shoal chief executive officer envisions a new era of connectedness for anyone who could afford it. Boom claims that its aircraft can travel at speed of 1451 miles/hour. Boom hopes to have a fleet of jets ready for passengers by 2020.


Environment Issues

The Concorde was a big polluter because it uses four times fuel per passenger as compared to a normal boeing 747 jumbo jet, So everyone is not convinced that supersonic air travel is worth bringing back. It’s unclear whether this new wave of plane will be any better. Boom, Aryan and others claimed fuel efficiency will improve, but environmentalists are still alarmed by resurgence in popularity.

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