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NASA To Conquer the Sonic Boom with Experimental Bendy Aircraft

Written by on Friday, April 20th, 2012

“Supersonic” and “stealth” usually aren’t two words that you hear spoken in the same sentence, and for good reason. Whenever a plane — or any other object — moves at the speed of sound, it will create a tremendously loud sonic boom.

This quirk of physics seriously limits the ability of commercial and military aircraft to operate quietly at supersonic speeds. The military wants to find a way around it to have stealthier aircraft, while commercial airline companies just want a smoother, quieter, and faster ride.

NASA has just announced its X-56A MUTT (Multi-Use Technology Testbed), an aircraft that should enable scientists to test hardware and software that can dampen the sonic boom. The MUTT is not actually slated to be capable of supersonic flight, but it will use the same type of equipment that might allow future high-speed aircraft to quietly break the sound barrier.

What makes the MUTT so revolutionary is that it will have a flexible fuselage and wings. These flexible parts should dramatically reduce the weight of the aircraft, but it comes at a cost: buying antibiotics online flutter. As air travels over the MUTT’s flexible wings, the wings will vibrate and cause turbulence. Finding a way around flutter is one of the primary objectives of the MUTT research.

A fortunate side effect of this goal is that flutter-suppression techniques could also apply to sonic booms, so the Air Force is attempting to kill two birds with one stone, as it were. If the MUTT enables scientists to successfully test and invent new hardware, then it will open up the world for both lighter and quieter aircraft. As odd as it might seem, this humble, oddly-shaped aircraft may be the progenitor of a whole new generation of commercial and military aircraft.

Of course, it will be some time before civilians will be able to see the benefits of this research. The X-56A will still need to get its feet wet in its first few flights before scientists can determine if this technology is promising or if it will be a dead end.

If you want advice about the world of military aviation, there’s no better people to turn to than men and women who have sat in the cockpit and flown some of the world’s most advanced aircraft. With over 50 current and ex-warfighters on call, Strike Fighter Consulting Inc. can give you access to up-to-date, first-hand technical and tactical expertise.

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