Commercial supersonic flight has left the drawing board with Lockheed Martin announcing fabrication of the X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft has begun. Milling the first part of the test aircraft has commenced at the company’s famous Skunk Works, setting the project on course for its maiden flight scheduled for 2021.
(A machinist prepares the milling equipment for the first manufactured part of the aircraft structure for the X-59 QueSST at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, Palmdale, California)
Being developed in partnership with NASA, the purpose of the QueSST X-plane is to test technologies to make commercial supersonic aircraft quiet enough to fly over populated areas. So far, all of the work has been dedicated to computer modeling, design, and wind tunnel testing, but now the project is moving to the manufacture of an actual aircraft.
Once the QueSST takes to the air, NASA plans to use it to collect data on both the engineering level and from the general public to eventually produce a supersonic airliner that can fly over land while quiet enough to be acceptable to the public. In addition, the information will be used for the revision of current environmental regulations that were drafted in the late 1960s and were often deliberately prejudiced against supersonic flight.
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