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The US Is Getting Closer to a Supersonic Passenger Jet Like the Concorde

May 23, 2018
2 min read
The US Is Getting Closer to a Supersonic Passenger Jet Like the Concorde
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The Federal Aviation Administration said it's working to clear a major regulatory hurdle for US supersonic passenger jets.

The aviation agency is writing new regulations that will "accommodate noise certification of new supersonic aircraft," meaning that new jets will be soon be authorized to break the sound barrier in the US.

The only jet that has had such authorization in the past was the Concorde, the iconic European jet that flew at 1,354 mph (more than two times faster than the speed of sound) and ferried passengers from New York (JFK) to London (LHR) or Paris (CDG) in just under three and a half hours. The economic impact of noise restrictions was a big component that contributed to the Concorde ending operations in 2003. Those restrictions limited where the Concorde could fly.

Breaking the sound barrier causes a sonic boom phenomenon — a loud crack that can be heard for about one mile per foot of cruising altitude. The FAA says that the current noise standards must be broadened to "adopt noise levels and test requirements that would apply to new design supersonic aircraft."

This is good news for supersonic jet builders in the US like Boom Technology. The Denver-based aviation startup is developing a supersonic passenger plane that would seat 45 to 55 passengers. Boom wants to offer faster transpacific routes to Asia, shrinking long-haul flights like San Francisco to Shanghai from 11 hours down to just six. The plans for Boom's aircraft show it reaching Mach 2.2 (1,451 miles/hour), which is about twice as fast as the average passenger jet.

TPG reached out to the FAA for more information but did not receive an immediate response.

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H/T: Bloomberg