NASA is paving the way to making quiet supersonic passenger air travel over land possible with its new supersonic X-plane, and the F414 will be along for the ride! The F414 will venture out of its highly successful military “lane” and serve as the engine for NASA’s Low Boom Flight Demonstrator.
NASA is working with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Palmdale, Calif., to design, build and conduct initial flight testing of the quiet supersonic X-plane. The single-engine X-plane, which will cruise at 55,000 feet at a speed of about 940 mph and create a sound about as loud as a car door closing – an ear-pleasing transformation away from the previous sonic boom of supersonic aircraft.
Scaled model of the single-engine X-plane.
NASA has selected the F414 and GE is creating a new single-engine variant dubbed the F414-GE-100. This engine will provide its traditional 22,000 lbs. of thrust while also integrating single-engine safety features. GE will provide two engines, with an option for a third.
“It is exciting to be part of this unique program and work with great partners like Lockheed Martin and NASA,” said Chad Sutter, a systems engineering leader who is spearheading GE Aviation’s efforts. “The F414 has certainly proven what it can do in the military arena, and now it will showcase its versatility.”
Airframe integration engineering activities among Lockheed Martin, NASA, and GE are now underway. Engine deliveries are currently scheduled for Q4 2019.
In 2021, NASA and Lockheed Martin will perform flight tests to validate operational safety, quiet supersonic technology, and robust aircraft performance.
In 2023, NASA will begin community response studies and data collection by flying over several U.S. cities, verifying and validating community responses to the sonic thump. The data gathered will be delivered to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and international regulators for their use in considering new sound-based rules regarding supersonic flight over land, enabling new commercial markets.