Aerion and NASA begin laminar flow flight testing

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Aerion's determination to be first to market with a supersonic business jet remains as dogged as ever as the US aerodynamics research company embarks on a another round of testing with NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center.

The latest tests - which began on 31 January - use an Aerion "phase two" test article mounted in a centreline position on the belly of NASA's F-15B research aircraft flown at speeds of up to Mach 2.0. The eight-week programme, involving around 10 flights, is designed to measure the "real-world robustness" of supersonic natural laminar flow - a vital element, Aerion says in its design for the first SSBJ.

The duo completed the previous round of testing in 2010 using a flat-plate calibration fixture onboard an F-15.

nasa f-15b laminar flow test craft aerion
 
 nasa f-15b laminar flow test craft aerion

 Aerion 

The latest tests use an Aerion "phase two" test article mounted in a centreline position on the belly of NASA's F-15B research aircraft flown at speeds of up to Mach 2.0. 

The 80inx40in (203x101cm) phase two test article" is not an exact scaled physical representation of the concept vehicle's wing, Aerion concedes. However, it is "sufficiently representative" for its purpose "to evaluate the effect of surface imperfections on the stability of supersonic boundary layers." Aerion says data collected during these tests will include temperature readings and "flow angularity." The tests are also intended to help define future SSBJ manufacturing standards for surface quality and assembly tolerances.