NASA has announced that its X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft has been cleared for final assembly and systems integration, a move the agency called the “last programmatic hurdle” for QueSST prior to flight signoff. Approval for final assembly of the X-59 was given at a Key Decision Point-D (KDP-D) management review last week. Assembly and systems integration are expected to be completed by late 2020, with the aircraft’s first flight scheduled for 2021.
“With the completion of KDP-D we’ve shown the project is on schedule, it’s well planned and on track,” said NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Bob Pearce. “We have everything in place to continue this historic research mission for the nation’s air-traveling public.”
The X-59 QueSST aircraft is designed to “reduce the loudness of a sonic boom reaching the ground.” According to NASA, it will be used to gather data that will “help regulators establish new rules to enable commercial supersonic air travel over land.” As previously reported by AVweb, the X-59 is being built by Lockheed Martin at the company’s Skunk Works factory in Palmdale, California. Lockheed Martin was awarded the $247.5 million contract in early 2018.