Boom’s XB-1 Gets Permission for Supersonic Test Flights

Image credit by Boom Supersonic

Boom’s XB-1 has been given Special Flight Authorization (SFA) permission to go supersonic by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), meaning the jet is allowed to break the sound barrier during its test flights. These supersonic test flights are set to occur later this year in the Black Mountain Supersonic Corridor in Mojave, CA.

As civilian supersonic flight is illegal in US airspace, it requires special FAA permission to travel faster than Mach 1. The new agreement also waives some environmental regulations involving sonic booms and their effects.

The SFA is reached after the first flight of XB-1 at the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California a few weeks ago. During the mission, the jet was flown by Pilot Bill “Doc” Shoemaker while Pilot Tristan “Geppetto” flew the T-38 chase aircraft. This flight not only occurred in the same airspace that hosted many historic first flights such as the flights of the Bell X-1, the North American X-15, or the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, but also marked the return of a civil supersonic aircraft to the skies after two decades.

Under the SFA, supersonic test flights are allowed to occur in the Black Mountain Supersonic Corridor at Edwards Air Force Base, California and a portion of the High Altitude Supersonic Corridor within the R-2515 airspace, often used extensively for research and military supersonic aeronautical operations.

According to the company, there are up to 20 subsonic tests to be completed, including the first wheels-up flight, flight systems test, subsystems tests, vibration tests, as well as proofs that the airframe can operate within safe vibration limits before going into March numbers. The first three supersonic flights are set to reach Mach 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3. The tests also will require a great deal of air space to conduct due to the great speed.

In its first supersonic flight, XB-1 will be controlled by Test Pilot Tristan “Geppetto” Brandenberg, who also flew the T-38 chase aircraft that monitored XB-1 in the air during its first flight. There’s also a chase plane aircraft specified to trail XB-1 to observe, monitor, and record safety during supersonic flights.

Ashton Henning

Comments are closed