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NASA's quiet supersonic research aircraft could fly in 2022
Thursday, 13 May 2021
Innovative features on top of the X-59 wing should re-shape the shock wave pattern, substantially reducing the sonic boom to more of a sonic "thump" when it reaches the ground. Collins is onboard for the avionics.

NASA is targeting 2022 for the first flight of the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) research aircraft. Its mission is to fly over communities to collect data that could cut passenger travel time in half without disturbing people on the ground.

NASA's X-59 is equipped with supersonic technologies that aid in lowering the sound of the sonic boom. In the picture, the black rectangular panels are the air intakes for the environmental control system (ECS) that regulates the temperature, cabin pressure, and air distribution. The silver grate located at the rear of one of the ECS panels is the exhaust — both of these sections are traditionally housed on the underside of the plane. By placing these features on top of the X-59 wing, the wing blocks and prevents the ECS exhaust from interacting with the shock waves on the bottom of the aircraft. This unique design approach to re-shaping the shock wave pattern substantially reduces the sonic boom to more of a sonic "thump" when it reaches the ground.

When Collins Aerospace was selected by Lockheed Martin to provide avionics for NASA's X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft, the avionics supplier had a unique challenge to overcome — helping the aircraft's pilot to safely fly and land, in all weather conditions, without any forward-looking windows. Collins Aerospace rose to the challenge, recently delivering a tailor-made Large Format Display system that will play a key role in the mission of the X-59.

"The X-59 is expected to create a noise about as loud as a car door closing instead of a sonic boom when it breaks the sound barrier," explains Dave Schreck, vice president and general manager for Military Avionics and Helicopters at Collins Aerospace. "This aircraft has the ability to shape the future of supersonic travel and our avionics are helping make this revolutionary aircraft a reality. We're excited as we count down the days until we see it fly."

In order to achieve supersonic speeds with a low-boom signature or a sonic thump, the X-59 design incorporates a long and slender airframe which prominently features an approximately 30-foot-long nose. This shape prevents the aircraft from having a forward-looking window. NASA's eXternal Vision System will allow X-59 pilots to safely navigate the skies by using a 4K monitor to display images from two cameras outside the aircraft combined with terrain data from an advanced computing system. By jointly developing software applications side-by-side with Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and NASA, Collins Aerospace was able to provide an optimised avionics solution that includes the company's award-winning touchscreen primary flight displays with tailored multi-function windows, head-up display (HUD) symbology, synthetic vision, ARC-210 communication radios, and a suite of navigation and surveillance equipment. In addition, Collins Aerospace was able to leverage its multi-spectral enhanced vision system (EVS-3600) to enable pilots to land in nearly all weather conditions using advanced visual sensors and multiple wavelength, infrared technology.

Contact details from our directory:
Collins Aerospace, Avionics Division Air Data Computers, Air-to-Ground Data Links, Airborne Communication Systems, Aircraft & Helicopter Controllers, Attitude and Heading Reference Systems, Automatic Direction Finders, Automatic Flight Control Systems, Autopilots, Avionics Management Systems, Cabin Address Systems, Cabin Management Systems, Cockpit Printers, Cockpit Video Displays, Collision Avoidance Systems/TCAS, Command, Control & Intelligence Systems, Control Panels, Distance Measuring Equipment, Electronic Flight Instrument Systems, Engine Control Quadrants, Engine Controls, Engine Indicator Instruments, Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS), Flight Directors, Flight Management Systems, Flight Recorders, GPS, Head-Up Displays, Helmet-Mounted Displays (HMD), Horizontal Situation Indicator, Inertial Components & Systems, Inflight Entertainment, Instrument Landing Systems, LCD Displays, Moving Maps, Multi-Mode Receivers (MMR), Navigation Antennas, Onboard Computers, Radar/Radio Altimeters, Radio Communications Equipment, Simulation Systems, Surveillance/Air Defense Radar, Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems, Transceivers, UAV Control Software, VOR (Omnirange) Receivers, Weather Mapping Radar
NASA Langley Research Center Research/Consulting Services, Testing Services, Wind Tunnels
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works Airborne Communication Systems, Airframer, Design Services, Research/Consulting Services, Technical/Eng/Scientific Studies
Related aircraft programs:
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works X-59 QueSST
Related directory sectors:
Navigation Aids (Airborne)
Indicators and Instruments
Imaging and Visual Systems
Communications (Airborne)
Avionic Components