One Step Closer To A Supersonic BizJet

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Is the industry a step or two closer to a viable supersonic business jet? Could be, after what Gulfstream is calling last week's successful test of its so-called Quiet Spike "sonic boom mitigator." According to the company, the device successfully completed its first supersonic flight on Friday, Oct. 20, attached to the nose of a NASA F-15B research aircraft. Gulfstream says it has been collaborating with the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center to conduct flight-testing of the device's structural integrity since mid-July. Gulfstream says the Quiet Spike, an image of which they did not have prior to our deadline, was flown at Mach 1.2 and operated as designed. Last week's supersonic flight followed others beginning Sept. 25 and worked to establish a flight envelope that included an altitude range of 15,000 and 35,000 feet and a maximum speed of Mach .80.

Now, the device has been fully extended to its maximum length of 24 feet and, according to Gulfstream, performed as expected during the 1 hour, 5-minute test flight, which reached an altitude of 45,000 feet. The company says its Quiet Spike is a multi-segmented, articulating boom that, when fully extended from the nose of a supersonic low-boom shaped aircraft, is expected to reduce the effects of sonic booms. “The fact that the Quiet Spike performed as designed at supersonic speeds and was extended and retracted without any difficulties, brings us one step closer to our goal of seeing if it will reduce the sonic boom when mounted on a more appropriate platform,” said Pres Henne, senior vice president, programs, engineering and test, Gulfstream. Reducing the impact of sonic booms is something of a Holy Grail to designers hoping for a marketable supersonic aircraft capable of efficient and speedy flight over landmasses.