Tag Archives: X-59

782 NASA X-59 Test Pilots

Two X-59 test pilots discuss the NASA X-59 mission, the design and technology of the X-59 aircraft, the role of test pilots, and the challenges of flying supersonic.

The X-59 in flight. Graphic courtesy NASA.
X-59 in flight. NASA image.

Guests

Photo of X-59 test pilot Nils Larson.
David Nils Larson

David “Nils” Larson is a research test pilot at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. He is NASA’s lead pilot for the X-59 aircraft, and is assigned to Armstrong’s F/A-18, F-15, T-34 research and mission support aircraft, and DC-8 airborne science aircraft. Nils also serves as senior advisor for NASA aeronautical flight research. In this role, he is a strategic advisor to program directors for agency mission directorates concerning aeronautics flight research planning, execution, aircraft airworthiness, and risk management for future flight research projects.

Before joining NASA in 2007, Nils was on active duty with the U.S. Air Force. He has accumulated more than 7,000 hours of military and civilian flight experience in more than 100 fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft.

Photo of X-59 test pilot James "Clue" Less.
James “Clue” Less

James “Clue” Less is a research pilot and aerospace engineer at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. He is a project pilot for the X-59 aircraft.

Clue has worked at Armstrong since 2010 conducting flight research and airborne science missions as a pilot for the F-15, F-18, T-34, and King Air, as well as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a  modified 747SP jetliner, and various remotely piloted aircraft, including the MQ-9 Ikhana and aircraft from the center’s subscale research laboratory.

Before joining NASA, Clue served as an officer and pilot in the U.S. Air Force for nearly 21 years. Upon graduating from Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training, he flew F-111 aircraft at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico and the F-117 Stealth Fighter at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Quesst

Commercial supersonic flight over land is prohibited because the noise of the sonic boom is objectionable. But NASA and Lockheed Martin believe they can turn the boom into a thud by designing the X-59 in a way that manages the shock waves. The NASA Quesst mission has two goals:

  1. To design and build NASA’s X-59 research aircraft which includes technology that will reduce the loudness of the sonic boom.
  2. Fly the X-59 over U.S. cities, collect data from the communities about the sound, and share the public reaction to the quieter sonic “thumps” with the FAA and international regulators. 

The regulators can then consider writing new sound-based rules to lift the ban on supersonic flight over land.

On January 12, 2024, NASA held a public unveiling ceremony for the X-59 supersonic research aircraft.

Video: Rollout of the X-59 Quesst Supersonic Plane (Official NASA Broadcast)

Graphic of expected X-59 sonic noise compared to other sound sources. Courtesy NASA.

Hosts this Episode

Rob Mark and our Main(e) Man Micah.

666 Airline Recovery

The North America Air Transport Reporter with Cirium talks about airline recovery, Boeing, Airbus, and electric aviation. In the news, duct tape on a plane, the preliminary NTSB report on Launchpad Marzari’s crash, options for an upgraded F35 engine, an A330 that tried to take off from a taxiway, and the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) jet. Also, a women in aviation quiz and how to refuel two B737s with one B747.

Guest

Tom Risen is the North America Air Transport Reporter for Cirium, a global aviation data company. He’s based in Washington, DC, and focuses his insights, analyses, and content on airlines and aerospace manufacturers. Of course, the topic of the moment is the airline recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to reporting on airline business, Tom’s expertise includes the development of supersonic passenger jets and electric aircraft.

We look at the airline recovery, including bookings, variant infection concerns, and vaccination rates for the general public and at the airlines. Also the impact of international travel restrictions, and leisure versus business travel recovery. Tom talks about the airframers and the different trajectories for narrow-body and wide-body jets. He also shares some of his insights into the emerging electric aircraft, eVTOL, and Urban Air Mobility market.

Tom is the co-author of a forthcoming book about government oversight. He was formerly technology and business reporter at U.S. News & World Report, and a staff reporter for Aerospace America. Tom has also written stories for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Slate.

Aviation News

When passengers are out of control, flight attendants reach for a last resort: Duct tape

Recent examples of passengers subdued with the sticky tape include an unruly woman on an American Airlines flight and a man on a Frontier Airlines flight who allegedly groped and punched flight attendants. More recently, an American Airlines cabin crew member had duct tape during an incident with a young passenger, although restraint cuffs were used instead. In a statement, the  FAA said, “The flight crew is responsible for cabin safety and has latitude on how to handle individual situations.”

Launchpad, What Were You Thinking?

The NTSB preliminary report raises some questions about the fatal crash of Launchpad Marzari’s Focke-Wulf FWP-149D.

The Pentagon is exploring its options for a more efficient and powerful F-35 engine

The planned F-35 Block 4 upgrades include new weapons, computing technologies, and software. But a Pratt & Whitney F135 engine modernization proposal could be applied to all three variants of the F-35. Pratt described an enhanced engine would provide an 11 percent improvement in range, a 10 percent improvement in thrust, and a 50 percent increase in thermal management – important for stealth.

A330 Almost Took Off On a Taxiway at Newark

The crew was cleared for takeoff but they overshot their runway. As they proceeded down the taxiway at 90 knots, a controller noticed, and the takeoff was aborted.

NASA Timelapse Shows X-59 Supersonic Jet Being Built Over Two Years

The NASA video shows the construction of the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) jet. Lockheed Martin plans nine months of flight tests in 2022, with aircraft delivery to NASA in 2023. The video shows work being done on the aircraft at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works factory in Palmdale, California between May 2019 and June 2021.

Prerecorded

Our Main(e) Man Micah brings us two stories in this episode. “And Now Verlla” tells us about the loss of a long-time airplane geek. Then Micah tells a lighthearted story that could be called “The Covert Chocolate War” or “The Fight for the American Palate” or “Launchpad’s Last Chocolates.”

Mentioned

The Business Aviation Quiz: Women In Aviation – This quiz from AviationWeek lets you guess these women who made their place in aviation history.

Sky River™ Helicopters at the American Helicopter Museum & Education Center.

Photo by David Vanderhoof

QANTAS uses 747 to deliver extra fuel to Auckland

590 Richard Aboulafia

David Neeleman’s new airline, Breeze Aviation; Boeing’s board of directors, the 737 MAX, the NMA, and the FSA; United’s flight school purchase; NASA’s experimental X-59 jet and the prospects for supersonic transport; and a Southwest Airlines Teddy bear. Plus, the Igor Sikorsky Weekend Fly-In, other upcoming aviation events, the EAA mobile unit, carbon monoxide detectors and pulse oximetry, and a physics lesson.

Guest

Richard Aboulafia

Richard Aboulafia

Richard Aboulafia is Vice President, Analysis at Teal Group. He manages consulting projects for clients in the commercial and military aircraft field, and has advised numerous aerospace companies. He also writes and edits Teal’s World Military and Civil Aircraft Briefing, a forecasting tool covering over 135 aircraft programs and markets. Richard also writes publicly about the aviation field, with numerous articles in Aviation Week, Aerospace America, and other publications. Frequently cited as an aviation industry authority by trade and news publications, he has appeared on numerous television news programs and has spoken at a wide variety of conferences.

Aviation News

JetBlue founder unveils new, Utah-based ‘world’s nicest airline’

The new airline being started by David Neeleman will be known as Breeze Aviation, headquartered in Utah. Neeleman’s previous startups include Morris Air, WestJet, JetBlue, and Azul. Breeze will nonstop fly between currently underserved airports. Breeze ordered 60 new Airbus 220-300 aircraft, with deliveries beginning in April 2021. The company leased 30 Embraer 195 aircraft from Azul, which will be delivered starting May 2020.

Experts question whether Boeing’s board of directors is capable of righting the company

Some think the Boeing board took a long time to fire Muilenberg. Is that an indicator of the board’s ability to deal with the crisis Boeing faces? New CEO Dave Calhoun says the board repeatedly considered confidence, but then in December decided it was lost. Richard Aboulafia was quoted: “The board you see today was largely created by McNerney, and he packed it with people with zero engineering experience.”

United Airlines buys flight-training academy to speed up hiring of 10,000 pilots

United Airlines needs to hire more than 10,000 pilots during the next decade. The airline is buying the Westwind School of Aeronautics in Phoenix, a flight-training academy, with plans to bring student pilots into the academy with zero flight experience to become fully-rated commercial pilots.

NASA’s experimental X-59 supersonic jet could be built by the end of 2020

The X-59 QueSST is designed to test “quiet” supersonic transport over land. The aircraft was approved for final assembly in 2019. NASA commissioned Lockheed Martin to build the plane and they expect to have it completed by the end of 2020. First flight is expected in 2021.

Video: Quiet Supersonic X-Plane

Unbearably cute: A boy lost his teddy bear on a Southwest flight – so the airline sent him a new one

 After a young boy lost his favorite Teddy bear on a Southwest flight during the Thanksgiving holiday, his mother took to social media to try and locate the Teddy. The airline assigned an employee to find the bear but after an investigation, the Teddy couldn’t be located. So the corporate office decided to send the boy a new Teddy bear along with a storyline on how it was coming to live with the boy.

Mentioned

Igor I. Sikorsky Weekend Fly-In at The Bradford Camps on Munsungun Lake in northern Maine.  Meals and private lodging in waterfront cabins are included. July 10-12,  2020.

College Park Aviation Museum

That Last Decade, by Courtney Miller.

The Air Current Expands with new analysis, new director

The Experimental Aircraft Association will deliver the excitement of flight throughout the United States in 2020 as EAA’s “Spirit of Aviation” mobile unit, sponsored by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), visits numerous events in 2020. The traveling experiential exhibit introduces EAA to enthusiasts through aviation activities for people of all ages.

AOPA’s 2020 Fly-ins (now in AvGeekFests.com)

#StormCiara at London Heathrow – 20+ Go-Arounds and Crosswind Landings!!

 

528 Red Bull Air Race

We look at the Boeing Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS for the 737 MAX, the Lockheed Martin X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology aircraft, an Aurora Flight Sciences high-altitude pseudo-satellite, Japan Airlines pilots and drinking, and the TSA’s Automated Security Lanes. Also, Launchpad Marzari reports on the Red Bull Air Race World Championship Finale in Fort Worth, Texas.

Aviation News

FAA Probes Potential 737 MAX Design Flaw

The FAA is focusing on the automated stabilizer trim system that Boeing added to the 737 MAX aircraft. It’s called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS. Boeing may be required to design a fix for the system. Meanwhile, a Florida-based law firm has filed a lawsuit against Boeing claiming the system was an unsafe design and contributed to the Lion Air crash.

Lockheed Martin starts production of its experimental supersonic plane

Earlier this year, NASA awarded Lockheed a contract worth nearly $250 million to develop a supersonic airplane that doesn’t create a loud sonic boom. The X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology aircraft is designed for a 55,000-foot cruise at about 940 miles per hour. NASA will flight-test the experimental QueSST aircraft by the end of 2021.

The Boeing Odysseus is a Solar Aircraft Capable of Staying in the Air Indefinitely

The Odysseus high-altitude pseudo-satellite from Boeing unit Aurora Flight Sciences has a 243-foot wingspan. Flight testing in Puerto Rico is to begin in April 2019.

How Japan Airlines Plans to Solve Its Drunk Pilot Problem

The JAL co-pilot arrested at London’s Heathrow airport for being drunk took an in-house breathalyzer test but cheated. The breathalyzer used by JAL didn’t have a tube and it wasn’t noticed that the pilot was not blowing into the device.

US airport security is slowly getting just a bit better

Traditional airport security checkpoints in the U.S. process passengers serially. But now a different TSA checkpoint design is rolling out to additional airports. They are called “Automated Security Lanes” and passengers are processed in parallel.

Video: Travel Tips: Automated Screening Lanes

Red Bull Air Race

Launchpad Marzari attended the Red Bull Air Race World Championship Finale in Fort Worth, Texas.

Launchpad asked a great question during the live press conference, then interviewed racer Mike Goulian who took third place overall for the season.

Red Bull Media Center, Austin, Texas.

Mentioned

PurpleAir.com  – An air quality monitoring network built on a new generation of “Internet of Things” sensors.

The Mobile Passport app speeds you through U.S. Customs and Border Protection at three cruise ports and 26 airports.

YouTube Aviation Channels

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Credit

Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.