Supersonic Aircraft, History and Future
For many years, supersonic passenger transport has been a challenge for the world and for the evolution of aircraft. This marvel is capable of reducing time in flight, shortening distances, the best for crossing the ocean , better comfort and more than anything the satisfaction of the human being to keep developing new technologies defying the science and evolving in every single aspect of life.
The Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde was the first supersonic aircraft in transporting passengers from 1976-2003, this aircraft had the chance to fly mostly to London, France, USA, Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil. It was the best of the epoch and an incredible advance for technology and air transport, as these flights spent reduced travel times by half, compared with a conventional aircraft. This new technology needed some adjustments and improvements to make it profitable for airlines however, the main adjustments being on the engines, the sonic boom and the high cost per aircraft which had around a 46 million dollars launching price back in 1976. The challenge was to create engines without "afterburner" capable to provide a strong enough impulse with a low gas consumption making it commercially viable. It wasn’t easy. The next one was the "Sonic Boom" which was far from the maximum of the Pascal scale pressure level allowed that is up to 90 PA. For the take-offs and landings, the sonic boom was too high for people in and around the airports. There are stories about the supersonic cracking windows of cars and buildings when passing by near to landing or taking off at an airport in Mexico, but, to overcome this type of situation it was necessary to remove some aerodynamics and weight features required to cover the long-distance travel at an acceptable cost for the airlines. It was a total challenge and still is for the developers of this vanguard technology.
In Japan by JAXA and Europe with the project “RUMBLE” are working on a demonstrator plane, but so far, they haven’t been able to incorporate completely the key technology and validate the reduction of the "sonic boom". However, they are currently working on it and surely they will get results. On the other hand, Russia is paying attention to the creation of a technology demonstrator. In 2019 TsAGI implemented this successfully, and will allow Russians to develop a supersonic lightweight aircraft and create fundamentals for medium and heavyweight aircraft.
TsAGI is also working on digital technology for the correct design and development of aeronautical equipment, including the fast testing and certification process. This will allow determining the possibility to develop even quicker a product about to be technological perfection, take it to the market and maximize benefits. It is paramount that the demonstrator put on practice all key technology solutions that should be tested to confirm its effectiveness and viability for commercial purposes.
Andre Turcat, first pilot flying a Concorde (second from left)
It is expected that in COVID and post COVID times there will be high demand for business travel, plus the low price of the gasoline would make the ideal epoch to fly in a supersonic aircraft, as well as the most competitive and efficient aircraft flying over the ocean and uninhabited lands, The entire world is expecting the new wave of the supersonic aircraft.