Spike Aerospace unmanned SX-1.2 demonstrator makes maiden flight

Spike Aerospace unmanned SX-1.2 demonstrator makes maiden flight
The test flight was of an unmanned demonstrator aircraft – not the version pictured here
The test flight was of an unmanned demonstrator aircraft – not the version pictured here
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The test flight was of an unmanned demonstrator aircraft – not the version pictured here
The test flight was of an unmanned demonstrator aircraft – not the version pictured here

Spike Aerospace took to the skies for the first time on Saturday as it tested a subsonic, subscale version of its planned S-512 supersonic passenger plane. The unmanned SX-1.2 prototype demonstrator took off from a private airfield in New England with KrishnaKumar Malu and Mike Ridlon piloting it remotely on the first of a series of seven short flights throughout the day, to prove the validity of the aircraft's aerodynamics.

Saturday's flight took place under what the company called perfect weather with winds of 7 to 10 mph (11 to 16 km/h) and the temperature hovering around 70º F (21º C). During the tests, telemetry of the flight characteristics and other performance data were recorded and aircraft's center of mass, balance, and control surfaces were adjusted between flights.

"These test flights are providing incredibly valuable information which we can use to refine the design," says Malu. "I am very excited about how helpful these tests will be to our supersonic development program."

The data from the tests will be used to modify the design of the full sized S-512. This will be a 22-passenger supersonic jet with a range of 6,200 mi (9,977 km) that's designed to fly over standard airliner routes at Mach 1.6 (1,218 mph, 1,960 km/h) thanks to its low-boom signature fuselage using a modified delta wing design. In addition, it will be one of the first jets to replace traditional windows with video walls providing a stem-to-stern view of the exterior.

The S-512 is being developed with the assistance of Siemens, Quartus, Aernnova, Greenpoint, BRPH, and others with a projected flight date of 2021 and first deliveries in 2023. Currently, Spike is making modifications to the SX-1.2 for more test flights in November, followed by construction of the successor SX-1.3 demonstrator.

"The SX-1.2 test flights were conducted in a real world situation, and provide significantly more data than wind tunnel tests done in an artificial environment," says Vik Kachoria, President and CEO of Spike Aerospace. "We were able to test not only handling, but also a range of other considerations."

Source: Spike Aerospace

Real world tests and all we get is a render..
Spike's own press release doesn't have an actual picture. I'd be interested to know the scale of their radio controlled test model. What "scale speeds" did they fly it at? If they actually plan to deliver in 5 years, one would think they would have a full scale flying prototype at least by now. No mention of FAA certification either. So many questions, so few answers...
As a passenger of an unmanned flight I will wonder what to say when I hear . "Welcome to your first computer flown aircraft where we do not have to worry about human errors. Sit back, relax and know that nothing can go wrong ..go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, go wrong!"
Here you go, MD: A model of a real supersonic jet actually flying. Why would it matter re: render vs model plane? Neither is "real world" to me. <shrug> Y'know, this plane reminds me of real-world product. Yeah, here it is: . But, humor aside, I look forward to seeing fast planes up in the air again.
Ralf Biernacki
First, you can't test supersonic flight on a reduced-scale model----key parameters scale at different rates. That's why NASA and major manufacturers used to go to the frightful expense of building humongous supersonic tunnels (nowadays they mostly just model numerically, the software is mature enough). So the test is of low subsonic performance only---still useful, but hardly newsworthy. * Second, these long screens will look nothing like windows---more like backlit photos pasted on the wall---because they lack depth. Screens work adequately in flight simulators, because they are viewed from a single fixed spot: the pilot's head. But these "windows" will be viewed from many locations in the cabin, and their flatness will be painfully obvious. We will have to wait until holographic tech matures before this concept can work. * Third, I hope it works out for them---it's high time supersonic transport came back from the dead.
John S.
Awesome! Love that so many companies are working toward resuming civilian supersonic flight. And while the idea of "video walls providing a stem-to-stern view of the exterior" sounds really cool... I'm wondering if they're smart? What happens in the event of a crash and you need to look outside to see if it's safe to exit the plane? I'm guessing those video walls won't still be operating... I'd rather have a window! ;)