Video: Boom Supersonic cleared to test aircraft beyond Mach 1

19 April 2024

Boom Supersonic, a startup developing next-generation electric supersonic aircraft, has secured what it claims is the first special flight authorization (SFA) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowing the company to exceed Mach 1 testing.

The test flights will be conducted on Boom’s XB-1 prototype aircraft in the R-2508 complex and supersonic operations will occur in the Black Mountain Supersonic Corridor and in a portion of the High-Altitude Supersonic Corridor within the R-2515 airspace.

During testing, a thorough review and environmental assessment will be conducted by a specified chase plan aircraft that will follow the XB-1 to monitor and record the safety of the flight, Boom said.

Securing the SFA comes just a few weeks after the XB-1 took its first flight at the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California.

Boom said it will now expand the flight scope for performance and handling qualities through and beyond Mach 1. This will include in-flight checks of all systems; and multiple test points demonstrating a safe margin to flutter boundaries.

Boom said there are 10 to 20 flights planned before reaching supersonic speeds.

The second test flight will focus on retracting and extending the landing gear. The third flight will evaluate the XB-1’s flutter excitation system — a self-excited instability, which can occur due to interactions between aerodynamic and inertial forces, Boom said.

“Right now, the plan is multiple supersonic flights,” said Tristan “Geppetto” Brandenberg, who will fly the XB-1 on its first supersonic flight. “We plan to do Mach 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 on the first three. The reason for that is each one of those points takes so much airspace that you only have time to do one of them, so we will be on condition for several minutes, we’ll get a flying qualities and handling qualities block, and have to come back home.”

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