Quiet approach to supersonic flight

Pratt & Whitney has recently completed a series of tests aimed at developing noise reduction technology for a new generation of supersonic commercial aircraft.

Pratt & Whitney, working with the Japanese aerospace industry, has recently completed a series of tests aimed at developing noise reduction technology for a new generation of supersonic commercial aircraft.

The tests at the company’s West Palm Beach, Florida facility are a part of the Environmentally Compatible Propulsion System for Next Generation Supersonic Transport (ESPR) program sponsored by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Organisation (NEDO).

‘Although a supersonic transport may seem a long way off, we want to pursue the technology the world will need to bring it to reality,’ said Simeon Austin, Pratt’s director of advanced engine programs. ‘Producing a propulsion system that is environmentally acceptable is one of the hurdles which must be overcome.

‘The testing and development work we are doing with our colleagues in Japan are critical building blocks in creating that new generation of SSTs.’

The ESPR program is targeted toward a 300-passenger, MACH 2.2 aircraft. The noise reduction goal is 18dB lower than the recently retired Concorde and 3dB below current international standards.

Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) and Pratt engineers ran a series of acoustic tests on a demonstrator engine with specially constructed nozzles.

Results were said to be promising with a design that was refined through the use of computational fluid dynamics and sound absorbing material. Initial results indicate that the noise reduction goals of the ESPR program are achievable.

Austin added: ‘We are making strides on the noise issue and are tackling emissions and fuel economy as well in other parts of the program.’