Super sonic boom suppressor

Gulfstream Aerospace and NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Centre have teamed up in the Quiet Spike project to study the suppression of sonic booms.

The project centres around a retractable, 24ft-long spike mounted on the nose of NASA Dryden’s F-15B supersonic research aircraft. The spike, made of composite materials, is said to create three small shock waves that travel parallel to each other all the way to the ground, producing less noise than the typical shock waves that build up at the front of supersonic jets.

Before flying with the spike, NASA Dryden and Gulfstream staff mounted it on the aircraft and conducted structural tests on the ground. Since the project’s first flight in August, more flights have tested the system’s structural integrity before moving on to sonic boom suppression measurements.

Shock waves develop around aircraft as they near Mach 1 (760mph). When an aircraft travels supersonically, the resulting shock waves can produce a loud sonic boom. Because of its intensity, the US Federal Aviation Administration prohibits supersonic flight over land, except in military flight corridors.

Once the Quiet Spike has proven to be structurally sound, it can be incorporated on to advanced low-boom configuration aircraft to further lessen the impact of sonic booms.