Groups Urge FAA To Block Supersonic Aircraft


A coalition of 28 public interest groups led by the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter to the FAA asking the agency to refrain from removing the ban on overland supersonic flight or supporting rulemaking that might lead to the revival of supersonic aircraft on Tuesday. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the letter comes in response to the FAA’s move to update authorization procedures for supersonic test flights over land in the U.S. The letter (PDF) cites climate damage, air pollution, and noise as the primary reasons to for the groups’ opposition to supersonic flight.

“The world is burning, and supersonic planes would pour jet fuel on the fire,” said Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney Clare Lakewood. “It would be madness to sabotage our shot at preserving a livable climate so the ultra-rich can take faster flights.”

Between NASA’s Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) project and commercial companies like Boom Technology, Aerion Supersonic and Spike Aerospace, development of supersonic passenger aircraft has seen a resurgence in recent years. As previously reported by AVweb, the FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on revised regulatory procedures for obtaining approval to test supersonic aircraft last June as mandated by the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

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. “ ‘The world is burning, and supersonic planes would pour jet fuel on the fire,’ said Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney Clare Lakewood. ‘It would be madness to sabotage our shot at preserving a livable climate so the ultra-rich can take faster flights.’ ”

    Hyperbole meets hypersonic. All heat; no light.

    • “Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney Clare Lakewood”

      Since Clare has a degree in English, fine arts and law, then her comment concerning Biology, Aviation, Chemistry, and Atmospheric Physics is very humorous. Too bad some people might take her seriously.

  2. Climate change is NORMAL.
    CO2 is ORGANIC.
    Big booms in the sky happens in every summer storm.

    What’s “madness” is thinking that Man is unnatural and climate has ever been stable long term.

    • It was 6°C more than today in year 1000. The Groenland (Greenland) was green with no ice rivers ans water sourcing
      the Vikings were not mad people, they stay there because they could live
      and therefore the ice in Groenland will melt, and therefore a lot of ice in the world but in 6 centuries….
      not to morrow
      it is true that we must slow down the birth in some countries like un africa

  3. Just think of all those ultra-rich hypocrites who attended a climate change conference in Europe using their respective private jets to travel there. I shouldn’t “complain” too much since those ultra-rich hypocrites and along with the way the airlines treat passengers keep me employed! I wonder what generates the most carbon emissions, an airplane crossing the Atlantic in 6-7 hours ( or a Concorde flight in less time) or a 70,000 ton passenger liner taking several days at 30kts?

    • Let’s not forget the heavy-duty specially protected limo’s that got them to the conference. Also amazes me get rid of straws that harm out the environment but let me travel in luxury and take an armored limo to where I’m going so I can vote on climate change.

      My favorite was was Mr. Copefland from Texas a TV Minister. I need a non-stop jet so I can reach my destination w/o stopping that way I can preach the word one hour sooner.

  4. All good comments. Especially the hypocrite part of jets at a climate change conference.

    What frost’s MY cookie is that on the one hand, NASA is testing the X-59 QueSST — so that others can subsequently capitalize on our tax payer funded research — and on the other hand, they’re testing the X-57 Maxwell … so that a “green” airplane can save the planet. Meanwhile, resupply ships are bouncing off the Int’l Space Station. Does NASA have a “rudder?”

  5. I’m also, like most rational people, concerned about the climate. But what I haven’t seen addressed is whether a new supersonic aircraft would create any more emissions than a conventional one. If it doesn’t, the point seems moot for now.

    And as a lifelong professional pilot, I think that this technology (granted, only available to the ultra-rich at first) may someday benefit us all. Aviation is best when it’s moving forward. A new generation of supersonic airliners would surely follow eventually, and a two-hour flight to Hawaii sounds good to me when I reach my golden years.

    • In exactly the same way as a heavier airplane uses more fuel, a faster — supersonic — airplane will use more fuel. You cannot defeat or escape physics. Translated … more emissions. We don’t need no stinkin’ supersonic nuthin’ … except maybe for military airplanes. More efficient airplanes or more conservation vis-à-vis the frequency of flights is OK. If they build a supersonic airplane, Al Gore will have one.

        • Exactly, John ! All that “green” stuff is just for you and I and the rest of the peasants.

          In 2003, some guy decided to video all of the coastline of Kalyfornia for posterity from a Robinson helicopter. When he filmed Barbra Streisand’s palace in Malibu as a part of that effort, she sued him as a violation of her privacy. He fought back and a judge (surprisingly ) ruled in his favor and made her pay. NOT said was the fact that at the time, she had several Hummers in the driveway. She wanted everyone to drive tiny cars but drove huge ones herself and didn’t want anyone to know that or see how SHE lived. I believe ‘ol Al lives just up the road in Montecito. It’s a LOOOONG way back to Nashville so a supersonic bizjet would be pretty spiffy at saving him transit time. Maybe they could share? They won’t have to pay development costs because NASA will do that for them. And if NASA figures a way to make it quiet … the peons won’t even know he’s passing overhead.

          In the F-15, I’ve seen fuel flows over 120,000 lbs per hour when supersonic and the burners are going. So any effort to obfuscate the fact that supersonic flight is NOT planet friendly is pure balderdash. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s a wise thing to do. So I see merit in the letter described in this blog.

  6. I think the FAA needs to pass a reg stating

    1.a Whenever you come across a luddite who is creating a hazard to aviation by talking about aircraft or aviation, it automatically constitutes an emergency to be resolved by smacking the Luddite repeatedly on their head.