THE test pilot of a supersonic jet dubbed the “Son of Concorde” has revealed the most thrilling parts of his one-of-a-kind job.
Former US naval aviator Bill “Doc” Shoemaker up and moved to Tehachapi, California to be close to a one-third-scale demonstrator of the Boom Overture aircraft at the Mojave Air & Space Port.
The “Baby Boom” XB-1 test plane has already reached 90 knots during testing activities including extensive ground and taxi test events completed in preparation for its first flight.
At full size, the Overture jet will be capable of flying from New York to London in 3.5 hours, says its creator Boom Supersonic.
It is tipped to be faster and more efficient than Concorde, a legendary aircraft that was introduced 51 years ago and retired in 2003 with a maximum cruising speed of 2,179km per hour.
Throughout his impressive career, Boom’s chief test pilot Bill has flown more than 5,000 flight hours in 50 aircraft types and even piloted the first flight of the Block II Super Hornet.
He has also, alongside another Boom test pilot Tristan “Geppetto” Brandenburg, now flown hundreds of hours in the “Baby Boom” XB-1 simulator, evaluating its capabilities and potential limitations.
Bill said: “Along with the entire XB-1 team, we are focused on completing the necessary ground testing to get XB-1 and the flight test team ready for a safe first flight.
“This includes testing of the aircraft and its systems while at rest as well as in motion during taxi testing.”
He added: “We are also rehearsing the first few flights with the simulator linked to the control room. This gives us the opportunity to refine the profiles we will fly and train for a variety of unexpected scenarios.”
The test pilot said the most exciting and rewarding moments he had so far experienced in his five years working at Boom came during taxi testing of the smaller airliner.
He explained: “These have been the first times where we’ve really put the aircraft and the team ‘to the test’.
“I am looking forward to the moment where XB-1 is airborne and we have the chance to see how the plane really performs.”
Boom Supersonic previously claimed the XB-1 is the fastest civil jet in history and will offer invaluable information about “the forces, temperatures, and aerodynamics at these speeds”.
Unlike most planes which are built largely from aluminium, the XB-1 was manufactured using ultra-durable carbon composites, an extremely strong reinforced plastic used in aerospace, civil engineering and even high-performance sports gear.
It is the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet, according to the airline company.
Previous reports indicated the prototype, 68ft long with a wingspan of 17ft, would be capable of travelling at more than twice the speed of sound.
The first Overture is expected to be unveiled in 2025, with flights available in 2030.
For now, the XB-1 demonstrator will be used to test flight components and systems, Victor Tangermann reported for Futurism.
He explained: “So far, the company has only built a one-third-scale demonstrator called XB-1 that’s expected to be flight tested sometime this year.”
American Airlines last year purchased 20 of the supersonic planes.
It comes as Nasa’s X-59 quiet supersonic aircraft is moved to the paint barn at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ facility in Palmdale, California.
The experimental aircraft is expected to cruise at 1,510km per hour at an altitude of 55,000ft.
Once painted, the team will take final measurements of its weight and exact shape to improve computer modelling.
Engineers are aiming to reduce the sound of the typical sonic boom to a sonic thump to minimise disruption to people on the ground.
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The aircraft is the centrepiece of Nasa’s Quesst mission, through which Nasa will fly the X-59 over several to-be-selected U.S. communities and gather data about people’s perceptions about the sound it makes.
Nasa will provide that data to regulators which could potentially adjust current rules that prohibit commercial supersonic flight over land.