Ordered by NASA, Lockheed Martin has started construction of its supersonic X-plane, which could travel from New York to London in 3 hours.
The plane, which is called the X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology aircraft, is being built by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works in California.
NASA’s first piloted, full-size X-plane in more than three decades, the X-59’s funding and development timeline was confirmed last week.
Lockheed Martin announcing fabrication of the X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft has begun and its purpose is to test technologies to make commercial supersonic aircraft quiet enough to fly over populated areas.
NASA hopes that this will allow it to establish an ‘acceptable’ noise level – and overturn regulations banning supersonic travel over land.
“This aircraft has the potential to transform aviation in the United States and around the world by making faster-than-sound air travel over land possible for everyone,”
– NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
When completed, the X-59 QueSST will be able to cruise at an altitude of 55,000 ft (17,000 m) at a speed of Mach 1.27 (940 mph, 1,512 km/h), yet produce a sonic boom of only 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB) – about as loud as a car door closing, according to Lockheed Martin.
“The start of manufacturing on the project marks a great leap forward for the X-59 and the future of quiet supersonic commercial travel,”
“The long, slender design of the aircraft is the key to achieving a low sonic boom. As we enter into the manufacturing phase, the aircraft structure begins to take shape, bringing us one step closer to enabling supersonic travel for passengers around the world.”
– Peter Iosifidis, Low Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.
The X-59 is scheduled to make its first flight in 2022.