Aircraft

Lockheed begins manufacture of X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology aircraft

Lockheed begins manufacture of...
Artist's concept of Lockheed Martin’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) X-plane
Artist's concept of Lockheed Martin’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) X-plane
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A machinist prepares the milling equipment for the first manufactured part of the aircraft structure for the X-59 QueSST at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, Palmdale, California
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A machinist prepares the milling equipment for the first manufactured part of the aircraft structure for the X-59 QueSST at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, Palmdale, California
Artist's concept of Lockheed Martin’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) X-plane
2/2
Artist's concept of Lockheed Martin’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) X-plane

Commercial supersonic flight has left the drawing board with Lockheed Martin announcing fabrication of the X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft has begun. Milling the first part of the test aircraft has commenced at the company's famous Skunk Works, setting the project on course for its maiden flight scheduled for 2021.

Being developed in partnership with NASA, the purpose of the QueSST X-plane is to test technologies to make commercial supersonic aircraft quiet enough to fly over populated areas. So far, all of the work has been dedicated to computer modeling, design, and wind tunnel testing, but now the project is moving to the manufacture of an actual aircraft.

A machinist prepares the milling equipment for the first manufactured part of the aircraft structure for the X-59 QueSST at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, Palmdale, California
A machinist prepares the milling equipment for the first manufactured part of the aircraft structure for the X-59 QueSST at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, Palmdale, California

Once the QueSST takes to the air, NASA plans to use it to collect data on both the engineering level and from the general public to eventually produce a supersonic airliner that can fly over land while quiet enough to be acceptable to the public. In addition, the information will be used for the revision of current environmental regulations that were drafted in the late 1960s and were often deliberately prejudiced against supersonic flight.

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.

"The start of manufacturing on the project marks a great leap forward for the X-59 and the future of quiet supersonic commercial travel," says Peter Iosifidis, Low Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. "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."

Source: Lockheed Martin

13 comments
anthony88
If this aircraft flies at Mach speed above a deserted desert, does it make a boom?
piperTom
It's "about as loud as a car door closing"? How close am I to this car door? If the answer is "that's you, closing it", then it's still pretty loud.
fb36
"The long, slender design of the aircraft is the key to achieving a low sonic boom." Think about how noise-cancelling headphones work! So, maybe the best solution is adding specifically designed wing/body structures (& speakers?), so that a supersonic airplane generates its own specific anti-noise/anti-shockwave (instead of trying to change the shape/design of the airplane in any extreme way)!
guzmanchinky
As long as it's a soft "whump" and not a soft "bang" it would be ok. The problem isn't just the noise, it's the suddenness (unlike a normal jet roar which builds and you hardly notice).
jlua
Beautiful plane, but far from the Match 2 of the Concorde.
RJB
" . . . environmental regulations . . . . were often deliberately prejudiced against supersonic flight." UK & France had it and USA did not so it was necessary to stop it.
RayR68
Give it a couple weeks and China will start building their own, it'll just look a whole lot like the one Lockheed is building!
Easy
Fuel? Do these engineers live in a bubble too? Don't they know about Global Warming? No more jetliners, or if we really must have them, then do it on some other planet. Airline 'traffic' has to be reduced by 50 % or more, which will probably make it something extremely exclusive or none existent. Climate Change folks, we'll be walking soon.
Stickmaker
Everything old is new again: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_X-3_Stiletto
EZ
Why? and for whom? Obviously, not us mere mortals. Whose authorizing all this waste of our tax money for these elite government blood suckers?