A new air data probe by NASA may improve the investigation to control and lessen the noise of sonic booms so that the US federal regulators allow commercial supersonic flights soon.
The Eagle Aero Probe is currently flying on the F-15B aircraft at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California and is seen affixed to a F-15B.
“The current six-flight series is set to continue through about mid-March,” said Brett Pauer, F-15B project manager, in a statement.
Much like earlier flight tests in 2011 and 2014, the probe is flying on the F-15B’s test fixture called the centerline instrument pylon. The pylon is located under the aircraft’s fuselage.
Researchers will be evaluating the performance of the probe originally developed by the aerospace engineering firm Eagle Aeronautics of Hampton, Virginia and redesigned by NASA for this phase.
In addition to obtaining air data measurements underneath the F-15B, the probe will measure the strength of a shockwave generated from, as of yet, an undetermined part of the F-15B aircraft structure.
“You want to have minimal lag in your measurement system in order to accurately characterise the intensity of the shockwave,” added Mike Frederick, principal investigator of the Eagle Aero Probe.
Armstrong’s F-15B is a two-seat version of the F-15 tactical fighter aircraft built by McDonnell Douglas, now a division of The Boeing Company.
Bearing NASA tail number 836, the F-15B is 64-feet-long and has a wingspan of just under 43 feet. It can produce almost 24,000 pounds of thrust each in full afterburner.
It is capable of dash speeds well in excess of Mach 2 (2,469.6 km/h), more than twice the speed of sound, at altitudes of 40,000 to 60,000 feet, although speeds are limited to Mach 2 when a flight test fixture is mounted beneath the fuselage.
Supersonic engine burns more fuel than a traditional jet engine.
Supersonic jets travel at higher altitudes than regular jets, closer to the stratosphere and have a greater potential to damage the ozone layer.
NASA sees the first business jet-sized supersonic planes going into production by 2025 and commercial planes by 2030.