FAA Considers Changes To Supersonic Ban

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The FAA’s rules currently prohibit civil aircraft from exceeding speeds in excess of Mach 1 over U.S. land areas, and the FAA says that’s not going to change. However, the agency said this week it wants to support the development of civil supersonic aircraft, and will propose two new rules that suggest a move in that direction. The first proposed rule will address the noise certification for supersonic aircraft, and the second aims to make it easier to get the special authorization needed to conduct supersonic flight testing in the U.S. The FAA also said it is “working within the existing statutory and regulatory authority to consider the range of permissible supersonic operations.” In addition, the FAA is assessing the current state of supersonic aircraft technology in terms of mitigating the noise impacts associated with supersonic overland flight.

The two proposed rules will be published next year, the agency said. The rules would not rescind the prohibition of flight in excess of Mach 1 over land. Yet the FAA said it is “working within the existing statutory and regulatory authority” to consider the range of permissible supersonic operations. In addition, the FAA is assessing the current state of supersonic aircraft technology in terms of mitigating the noise impacts associated with supersonic overland flight. Several companies, including Aerion and Boom, are working to develop supersonic business jets. Members of Congress have pressured the FAA to revisit its prohibition on supersonic flight.

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