Monday, April 29, 2013

Inspiring vision of Boeing's futuristic supersonic jet

  
This sleek model of a Boeing supersonic airliner design being tested in a wind tunnel brings with it a touch of sadness for those who, like me, mourn the decline of the British aviation industry in general and the utterly gorgeous Anglo-French Concorde in particular.

The reason? When I was at school in the 1970s, the cover of my physics textbook carried a similar photo of a model Concorde in a supersonic wind tunnel. It was an everyday inspiration to me and yet, in 2003, the twice-the-speed-of-sound, hook-nosed airliner was junked, too expensive to run and maintain on the limited routes the noisy beast could fly.

What they are doing at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, sensibly, is looking at ways to reduce the noise of a supersonic airliner so that its economics are not hamstrung from the off. The engines are on top to shield the ground from their roar, and a V-tail channels the sonic boom backwards – keeping the boom airborne for longer, giving it more chance of dissipating before reaching your delicate ears.

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