NBAA: Gulfstream “very close” to supersonic business jet design

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Gulfstream says it is "very close" to overcoming the noise and shockwave problems that have prevented development of a supersonic business jet that can operate over land.

The technology experiments launched by Gulfstream and NASA earlier in the decade have taught the company's designers how to minimise the sonic boom generated by the supersonic shockwaves, says Pres Henne, Gulfstream's senior vice president of programs, engineering and test.

An operational aircraft design shaped with "quiet boom" techniques, such as a very long, slender noise, is almost finished, he adds.

The routine experience of supersonic travel by civilians ended when the Concorde fleet was retired in 2003, but traditional and start-up business jet manufacturers have continued pursuing the technology.

Henne says that finding a suitable engine to power a civilian supersonic aircraft will pose no limitation. The Rolls-Royce Tay engines powering the G450 are a viable option for supersonic speed, he says. The Tay was derived from the Spey engine, which Rolls-Royce adapted for the UK Royal Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4.

Another engine option is the Rolls-Royce BR725 engine installed on the Gulfstream G650, he says.

By operating a supersonic speeds, the engine's hot section must be adapted to operate routinely at higher temperatures, he adds.

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