Kansas To Establish Supersonic Transportation Corridor


The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and the FAA have finalized an agreement to establish a supersonic transportation corridor (SSTC) for testing non-military supersonic aircraft. According to the Kansas Office of the Governor, the 770-NM “racetrack-shaped” corridor will “support sustained flight up to Mach 3.” Specific points of entry will be designated for aircraft entering the SSTC and operations will take place at or above 39,000 feet.

“The Kansas Supersonic Transportation Corridor will assist in the assessment of sound mitigating structural and engine designs as well as state of the art atmospheric acoustic modeling that eliminates the sonic boom and shapes the noise signature of an aircraft traveling faster than the speed of sound to a very low volume rumble,” said General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) CEO Pete Bunce. “The validation of these technological breakthroughs through the use of sophisticated ground acoustic and telemetry sensors will provide the necessary data to assist global regulators and policymakers in modernizing supersonic flight policies.”

Procedures for SSTC operations were written by the KDOT Division of Aviation, FAA Central Region, Air Route Traffic Control Center and Lemasters Group Consulting. KDOT has also partnered with Wichita State University’s National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR) to collect noise data and telemetry from the aircraft. The gathered data is intended for use by the FAA and aircraft manufacturers for evaluating aircraft performance.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Welcome to Kansas everyone. This lends new meaning to non-Kansans’ Kansas moniker “the flyover state”. Not having had the opportunity to precisely plot the course, it looks to me like my hangar at EWK is pretty much beneath the northern leg of the course just north of Wichita. Hangar #135. It’s the T-hangar closest to the big roundtop. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it at FL390 and Mach 3. One last thing – it’s December 17. I wonder of Wilbur and Orville approve. Happy First Flight Day.

      • You are probably correct. So, either they will throttle back to subsonic for the 180 turn or exceed the width of the designated airspace. And, there is probably a minimum airspeed and limiting bank angle for that type of airplane at those altitudes.

  2. As a kid, living in Kansas at the time, we used to hear the sonic booms from supersonic planes flying overhead, fairly frequently. Then they were outlawed over land, and now things have finally come full circle. But given that the newest generations of supersonic planes have, I think, eliminated the sonic boom, the people on the ground may be none the wiser to the amazing feat taking place over their heads.

    I welcome the advances in air transportation that may evolve from these efforts.

  3. Dorothy and Toto may not be in Kansas anymore, but the faux wizards who run the self-proclaimed
    “flying capitol of the world” still are. Rather than deal with poverty, homelessness, bored, restless
    youth, narcotics trafficking, rising homicide rates, and urban anomie, Wichita’s ruling class prefers
    staying up in the air to keeping its feet on the ground. Better for business, but worse for people
    who have neither magic nor money to rise above fate. As for Wichita State, instead of devoting
    precious space on campus to housing the Pizza Hut Museum, they would be well advised to feed
    the hungry and nourish the mind, rather than bow to wealth and wallow in kitsch. No university
    worthy of the name juxtaposes a “Koch collaborative” with a Joan Miró mural unless it has either
    sold its soul, or had none to vend. The loftier the bird, the more deadly its supersonic droppings.

    • Dennis you’ve made some valid points with which I can’t quibble. P-38 pilot, observer of human society and philosopher Antoine de Saint Exupery might have made the same points were he with us today. But let me just say that from the vantage point of my decades long window seat I’ve also seen real altruism by some, though not all of Wichita’s high flyers. Some of those altruistic high flyers remain anonymous in their altruism and do very good work. What is lacking not only in Wichita but in much of our country is that too much of the time altruism is not systemic and long term. Privately practiced altruism tends to deal with the ills of society on a voluntary when-they-feel-like-doing-so tax advantageous basis rather than launching long term sustainable programs that achieve permanent solutions. Unfortunately sustainable programs that achieve permanent solutions require permanent central arbitration and coordination. Much of the time the only permanent central arbiter/coordinator entity of that kind is considered to be a dirty word in our country, somewhat deservedly so but not nearly as much as it’s made out to be. High flyers, like many of us common folk are quite happy to entrust the interstate and airspace systems to that entity which is incidentally the best in the world at managing those systems, but high flyers, like many of the rest of us refuse to trust that entity with much of anything else. Therein lies part, but not all of the problem. And yes, there will undoubtedly be some unpleasant supersonic droppings. There almost always inevitably are.

    • Naw, no valid points there. The purpose of government is quite limited, and feeding the people isn’t one of its things. That’s up to **people** to do.

      • Yes Richard. Thanks for making my point. No, government does not feed people just like government does not pour concrete to create your interstate highway, and I’m not proposing that it do so. But government does assure that the concrete does get poured by arbitrating and coordinating who pours it when and to which standards. Actually pouring concrete is “up to people to do”, and I extend that analogy to dealing with some of the social ills mentioned by Dennis R even as it is proposed that supersonic flight testing take place somewhere near and over the city of Wichita, which as most cities in the US has its share of social ills.