Lockheed Martin Skunk Works has installed the single GE F414-GE-100 engine in NASA’s X-59 supersonic research aircraft ahead of anticipated first flight early next year. The engine is rated to 22,000 pounds of thrust and is expected to propel the X-59 to speeds up to Mach 1.4 at 55,000 feet.
The X-59 will ultimately be used to measure the acoustical impact of mitigated sonic boom technologies via community overflights now expected to take place beginning in 2025 and could ultimately pave the way for civilian supersonic flights in U.S. airspace. The aircraft is designed to reduce the sound of sonic booms to a quiet sonic “thump.”
Following first flight, NASA will conduct acoustic validation flights of the aircraft at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. There, the agency will test the tools used to predict and measure the sound level of the sonic thump, as well as verify that the X-59 is ready to fly in the National Airspace System. Community overflights will begin thereafter. NASA has yet to select those communities.
Data from those overflights will include public opinion surveys of the aircraft’s acoustic footprint. The data will then be shared with national and international regulators to empower them to consider enabling noise standards for civil supersonic flight over land.