Lockheed Martin starts production of X-59 Quiet Supersonic aircraft. Lockheed begins production on the jet that could reopen the door to supersonic passenger travel.
Lockheed Martin Corp.’s famed Skunk Works division has started production on a jet capable of breaking the sound barrier without making much of a noise.
The Bethesda-based defense giant announced Friday it had begun manufacturing the first part of the X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology aircraft, dubbed “the son of the Concorde” because it could reopen the door to supersonic passenger travel.
X-59 is designed to cruise at 55,000 feet at a speed of about 940mph and create a sound about as loud as a car door closing, 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB), instead of a sonic boom.
“The start of manufacturing on the project marks a great leap forward for the X-59 and the future of quiet supersonic commercial travel,” said Peter Iosifidis, Low Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “The long, slender design of the aircraft is the key to achieving a low sonic boom. As we enter into the manufacturing phase, the aircraft structure begins to take shape, bringing us one step closer to enabling supersonic travel for passengers around the world.”
The aircraft will be used to help NASA collect data needed to establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard with the aim of overturning regulations that ban supersonic travel over land.
The company aims to hold its first flight test for the X-59 in 2021.
Earlier this year, NASA selected Lockheed Martin to design, build and flight test the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator.
NASA awarded Lockheed (NYSE: LMT) a contract valued at nearly $250 million in April to design, build and test a “low boom” flight demonstrator.
The X-59 will conduct its first flight in 2021. It will be used to collect community response data on the acceptability of the quiet sonic boom generated by the aircraft, helping NASA establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to overturn current regulations banning supersonic travel over land.