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Quieter, cleaner supersonic jets to make a return, but are they any more commercially viable?




The XB-1 aircraft sits in the hanger during the Demonstrator official unveiling at  Boom Technologies on November 15, 2016 in Englewood, Colorado.
The XB-1 aircraft sits in the hanger during the Demonstrator official unveiling at Boom Technologies on November 15, 2016 in Englewood, Colorado.
Tom Cooper/Getty Images for Boom Technology

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Lockheed Martin, an American aerospace company, is leading the effort to build an airplane with a quieter sonic boom.

Last April, NASA's Commercial Supersonic Technology Project announced a partnership with Lockheed Martin to develop technology that would bring back supersonic airlines. The aircraft will cruise at 55,000 feet, Mach 1.4, and will generate a gentle, supersonic heartbeat instead of a sonic boom.

The aircraft, called the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD), also known as the X-59 QueSST, is scheduled to start flying in 2021. It will be more environmental friendly and much quieter than the turbojet-powered supersonic airliner, Concorde, that was grounded in 2003. In a fast-paced world and a seemingly moving economy, the need for faster means of transportation seems to be pressing.

Lockheed's LBFD program is not the only one aiming at making the supersonic travel economically viable. Other companies, like Boston-based Spike Aerospace, are also working to bring back faster-than-sound travel to the flying public. Boom Technology, a Colorado startup, is another company that is developing a supersonic aircraft with a sonic boom 30 times quieter than Concorde's.

We look at the future of quieter supersonic aircrafts and examine if there is a market for them.

Guests:

Vik Kachoria,  president and CEO of Spike Aerospace, a Boston-based aerospace firm that is developing a low-boom supersonic aircraft, the Spike S-512.

Patrick Smith, airline pilot and author of the book, “Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel: Questions, Answers, and Reflections” (Sourcebooks, 2018); founder and editor of AskThePilot.com, a blog about air travel



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