Explaining the X-Plane

by | Apr 3, 2018 | Articles, Leah's Lair, Legends of Tabletop, Uncategorized


I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and was able to witness a webcast press conference from NASA several hours ago.  I’m excited to be able to share the information that I hastily typed out with you all.
The conference began with what looked like a PowerPoint presentation, showing lovely graphics and text as follows:
NASA Press Conference
Low Boom Flight Demonstration
Great Aviation Transformation Begins
Experimental LBFD, an X-Plane.

Preliminary Image of Low-Boom Flight Demonstration supersonic plane. This image is sourced from

The teleconference was limited to an hour.
Dr. Jaiwon Shin NASA Aeronautics Mission Director
“With this announcement” he said, “NASA is opening a new era… They have been flown in partnership with the Air Force… They have partnered with a private company to fly technologies to decrease a sonic boom to a silent thud… Flying supersonic speeds over land, but quietly. They will fly over select cities and ask those cities to respond to what they heard, which shouldn’t be anything. Then they will work with the FAA to change regulations and create a new s upersonic market around the US and the Globe… Many people at Nasa have worked to reach this point…
It’s a new beginning for NASA Aeronautics. April 3, 2018 is the day it all began.”*
(*I tried to type this out as fast as I could, there may be some human error in my hasty transcription.)

NASA’s new partner in this venture is Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company out of California. (Audience claps)
“Robert Lightfoot has been a real champion of this effort and is unable to attend the press conference today.”
A pre-recorded broadcast from Robert reiterated that they have been working with NASA to develop possible commercial supersonic flight over land, anywhere in the world. Kennedy and Johnson Space Centers have supported developments of this game-changing technology over the years. Robert looks forward to seeing these experimental planes take flight over the next few years. He says the great transformation takes place today.

It’s stated that various aircraft have been generating data over communities for potential commercial supersonic aviation.  NASA has data going back 50 years to develop over-land supersonic flight and make it a possibility. They have finally developed the technology to make it a reality. They are confident in the design that they have and intend to develop this aircraft to fly by 2021.

(Now there is a Q&A demonstration, short video, another Powerpoint presentation)
Regarding the Quiet Supersonic X-Plane, lowering the sonic boom, and community response studies.
Enabling Over-land Supersonic Flight.
Panelists Ed Wagner, Peter Cohen, Peter (Josephinas?…*spelling was not given and was unclear to me.)

(I did #asknasa via Twitter if there were a list of potential cities available for listening and community response to the X-Plane supersonic planes. It seems there is no list as of yet.)

Q: What time frame would there be – how long do you expect the test period in 2021 to last?
Are you going to use data from Honeywell or are you going to focus only on the data obtained from Lockheed Martin?

A: Acoustic Validation phase – September of 2022 will be the first community response test, flown from NASA Armstrong. It will be in the Southwestern US, 2 flights per year to test.
They need to build a database of rural towns at first and see where it goes from there.
Flight planning software will be used at first to gain the exposure that they want.
There will be a cockpit display of the boom.
Testing will last about 3 years, and those tests are timed to coincide with international meetings to work with both the US and the International Communities between 2022-2025 to ensure that the right communities are involved at the right time.

Q: Is NASA building a supersonic commercial type aircraft? (Asked from Facebook)

A: No. The technology and information could potentially be used in commercial aircraft, but this is experimental data gathering only.

Both the manufacturer and the Department of Defense will be working closely together on this enterprise.

Q: When is the buildout going to begin on this plane?

A: We will start immediately taking the initial design which was submitted last year and we will start in earnest next year.

All aircraft are certified to meet a certain noise level. We understand the types of guidelines that are in place to ensure these are met.

Right now we are focused on this vehicle and excited on this one to validate these technologies. We are not working on another experimental vehicle, only this one. We want to make sure that we have the monitoring/control piece in place to produce this vehicle on time.

Carrie Lynch, Aviation International:
Q: Can you talk about the plane and speed?

A: 94 feet long, wingspan of 29.5 feet, 1.4 mach at 55000 feet.
Everything you see in the plane (We are shown nothing in the plane) is salvaged from existing aircraft. (I’m excited to see this FrankenPlane.) The engine will be a GE F414.
(? I tried to type this out as fast as I could, there may be some human error in my hasty transcription.)
No new development of major components are currently a part of this effort.

Mark from Defense Daily
Q: Were there any other bidders for this contract? Why was Lockheed selected?

A:  NASA ended up with one bidder.
(Look at that.  One bidder.  This is why I go ahead and submit to that open call, because you never know.)  There were three enquiries for Requests for Proposal, but they ended up with only one bidder. They went through an exhaustive analysis for this bid. In every aspect that they looked at, it was excellent. They clarified some places where it wasn’t exactly clear. From a Government point of view, it is a very affordable price. They have the budget, they have the resources and they feel that Lockheed is a very satisfactory partner to provide the data that they need to provide to the regulatory communities that have to have it.

Shock waves are addressed on the nose, air, canopy, wing, and tail, because they are all different. Sonic Boom reduction is controlling the shape, strength, and position of shock waves to prevent that coalescence, so that they cannot merge and become that boom, and it will reach the ground as a small thump, or a double thump.

“We won’t be able to fit passengers in the X-Plane, not yet.”

(I cannot stress enough that I tried to type this out as fast as I could, I remind you that there may be some human error in my hasty transcription.)

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