Supersonic Aircraft


Hayley Nicole Veen, Staff Writer

This year, 2023, Boom Technology Inc. is flight testing a supersonic aircraft; the XB-1, also known as “baby boom.” The company’s first big milestone was a bonding of nose landing gear and cockpit to the fuselage in late 2019, before simulators, wing and nose gear tests, putting in strong engines, and roll-out. If the XB-1 is efficient and safe, travel can get a lot faster.

In December 2019, In Colorado, from 3 AM to 11:15 PM, workers are securing heavy pieces of equipment supposed to be able to withstand moving faster than you can hear yourself say gesundheit. In another bond event, just the next month, wings become enclosed. It takes 8 hours to properly bond, or attach, metal on the outside of the 21-foot wingspan skeleton. Progress continues in February 2020, when a supersonic simulator is built to train pilots. The simulator was quickly used to test various levels of responsiveness for steering. The next March, the project not only closed the left-hand fuselage in a hard outside layer but also tested and accepted the wing design. The Boom team tests the wings for up to 60,000 pounds of force with about half the team now working from home.

 In another bonding event three months later, the team continues to bond the fuselage. In July, XB-1’s future landing gear was tested and revised over multiple weeks for different conditions. In a hard landing scenario, the nose gear could survive 8,000 pounds of force alone, and the main landing gear was made to be able to survive 23,000 pounds of force. While the majority of airline airplanes are built for about a 3 feet per second landing, XB-1 is predicted to be able to handle a 15 feet per second landing. In August 2020 engines and the aft fuselage are added, and testing is right around the corner. In September, XB-1 stands on its wheels, next month it’s rolled out for the world to see. For the next two years, XB-1 is consistently taxi tested, starting with the first test in Colorado’s Centennial Airport. During this time the XB-1 team can notice how the plane can make tight turns on the runway, how the parachute in case of brake failure works, and other basic functions needed for safe air travel.

 In 2023, the flight testing begins. After building the XB-1, there are rules the team must follow for supersonic flight testing. The FAA has had supersonic regulations since Concorde, an early supersonic plane was flying. The FAA states, “that regulation prohibits anyone from operating a civil aircraft at a true flight Mach number greater than 1 over land in the United States and from a certain distance offshore where a boom could reach U.S. shores.” This is referring to 14 CFR Part 91.817, although the quote is found on the FAA website. These restrictions make sure that any sonic boom occurring will not harm anyone below.

The booming team will continue flight testing; this may be a bigger part of aviation in the future. More supersonic aircraft might appear in overseas travel, to avoid the supersonic boom. However, all thoughts of the future rest as speculation for now.