The US Congress has directed NASA to develop and demonstrate technologies that enable commercial aircraft to achieve noise levels on approach, take-off and landing that do not exceed the ambient levels prevalent without air operations.
Congress stipulated these technologies in its NASA Authorisation Act 2008 that President George Bush signed into law on 15 October. The Act directs NASA to work with universities, industry and other research organisations for this environmental initiative's goals.
The Act also says that the NASA administrator "shall establish an initiative...of research, development, and demonstration, in a relevant environment, of technologies to enable...significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions compared to aircraft in commercial services".
Congress also wants NASA to establish a co-operative research programme, involving flight demonstrations, to collect data on the perceived impact of sonic booms. This data could lead to overland commercial supersonic flight-operation standards. Congress says the initiative should include the Federal Aviation Administration and the Partnership for Air Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction Center of Excellence.