NASA EDGE: Low-Boom Flight Demonstration
Welcome. To NASA edge an inside and outside look at all things NASA I gotta tell you this is a great time for Aeronautics, because the x-point is coming back to NASA it's awesome, we're being joined by david rich wine who is the deputy project manager for, technology, for the low boom flight demonstration. How you doing Dave I'm doing great guys how are you guys doing awesome are, you excited - I am very excited this is a great, time for the project, and as could be here to talk to you guys today what is the low boom flight demonstration, project so the, NASA has done a lot of research over the last decades. Really in supersonic, research, but the low boom flight demonstration, is a kind, of focused effort to. Work on the problem that we know is the the most critical problem in SuperSonics, which is that low boom, or the boom that people. Have heard from. Fighters, over the years and so on that you don't, want to hear that sound on the ground and so we're working at the Overland supersonic. Flight problem so that's, we view that as the most challenging, problem so if we can solve that and then work the other technologies, at the same time we feel like that lays a path for. Overland, supersonic, flight in the future which. I have to say for me personally if. I can reduce, time, in the air on a flight of any kind how, awesome is that, especially, from East Coast to West Coast and back because West London, Japan, yeah, so you know you do obviously, you give the guy in the airplane wants to be half the time in the airplane so that's certainly important too but the other important, part of that is the public on the ground and making sure they have the, environmental, or the boom or the noise that they. Hear on the ground we want to make sure that's acceptable, for the public as well you're taking on the unique challenge, of pleasing, everyone, that's true that's, true very difficult but that's the challenge that we have we're. Gonna learn all different aspects, of lb/ft. Today but. I think to, kind of kick things off the main focus to get to the low boom is the design, of the aircraft and. I had a chance to sit down with the chief engineer for lb-ft so let's check it out we're. Here at J Brannon chief engineer, for the low boom flight demonstrator, how you doing Jay I'm good, so, tell, me as chief engineer what, did your role, in the project I'm. Kind, of here to. Heard, all the cats so. To speak as we're developing the technologies. That are be used for putting, this airplane together so. You know the NASA side will, be developing. A few subsystems, ourselves, as well as putting all the requirements together for the airplane that then, a contractor. Will actually, build based, on our requirements now, speaking of that aircraft looking at the preliminary design of, the vehicle it's unlike any design, that I've seen before on the commercial side since, the plane is going supersonic you have to design that aircraft, well bit differently then let's say a Boeing 757.
737. What. Are some of the areas you have to look for in designing a supersonic aircraft the, key item, is is we, want to have a low, noise, sonic. Boom you, know the sonic boom of course is the reason why supersonic. Flight over land is not allowed. Because. Of the irritation. Of the noise to, people, and. Animals and such so. The design that you see reflects, the, technologies. That are being developed to reduce that that's not a clue a sonic boom happens, because of a pressure wave that the airplane creates and, so when you go supersonic, you have a pressure increase, in the beginning of the airplane of the shock wave and, then at the end you have the recovery of the pressure so it's two sharp changes. Of pressure and, those, happen very quickly and. What we're trying to do is design the airplane to slow down how quick that pressure change occurs, which then makes the noise that that, pressure difference, generates. Less. Now. We're looking at the shockwaves so is, that why you have to make the the, fuselage, is much longer than a typical commercial airliner all right so it's it's in order to get. That curve, to be gentle. For the shockwave pressure distribution. To be gentle normally, it's an in waves that's real sharp increased then, as sharp recovery, at the end and what we want to do is round, that out so, that the change in pressure might be very similar but it's going to occur over a longer period of time so that's a function of the lift distribution and the volume. And area of the airplane and that kind. Of results in that long law, on the airplane so you can spread all that stuff out and spread, all the shockwaves out so they don't coalesce, into one sharp, pressure. Spike at the beginning in the end of the year and then also you know looking at the the wings of the aircraft it doesn't seem like your typical traditional, commercial, airliner wings it looks like it's more of a swept back approaches. So that high sweep wing is is a traditional. Way to reduce the drag for supersonic airplane. So most supersonic, airplanes you'll see that they. Have a highly swept wing so that they don't generate, all that drag that's just a very common, supersonic, design, feature to keep the drag down so for, us the drag is not that important, as long as we have enough power, to overcome it and we have a high, thrust engine that we're using based, on a fighter technology, engine so. Drag is secondary, to us but again that volume and lift distribution is, kind of primary thing assuming that we have enough power to to, overcome, the drive so the whole purpose of lb-ft, is it's, not so much the final design of what's going to look like down the road but you want to make sure that you can actually achieve low boom and get that data that's needed for regulatory change to hopefully, to change the the. Rules of actually flying a supersonic vehicle over land that's right so yeah this will be a kind, of a noise generator and we'll be able to adjust how much noise, we make with the boom by find different types of profiles, and their. Campaign, over different places across the United States and get community response data and then use that as a vehicle for, a regulatory, change and, then the other thing is is this, will validate. Our. Tools of designing, airplanes to. Adjust that sonic, boom signature. To, get the lower perceived, noise levels, on an airplane so at the end of this project we'll have design methodology. You. Know there's validated. By flight tests and, you can apply that for a new airplane design. You. Know David Jay did a great job talking about the design, of the aircraft and one of the questions I forgot to ask him is how, practical, is it going to be for a commercial supersonic. Aircraft to be that long and be able to move, around airports, right, so the primary purpose of our project, the logo and flight demonstration, project is really just looking at the Overland supersonic, flight and being, a data generator, for regulatory, change but there are challenges. That the commercial airplanes will have to overtake, as well and work and we're, also working those anywhere from the environmental, concerns like, noise and emissions, at, a high outs - and.
Cost-effectiveness. And, things like that and so we're working those as well and so again. While NASA's, primary, objective is the the data part of this and for regulatory change there also will, work in the longer-term. Challenges, that have to do with the, challenges that would enables commercial, flight so, say, you fly. The demonstration. And it's completely, successful and, you meet all your objectives, and designers. Want to build, those commercial, craft will you guys provide, all, the data that you. Gathered. For the design process and make that available to, those designers, well that's a great question so that's, that's one of the important parts that we took on and when we did this experiment, we, were saying okay our approach is going to be while. Some of it might be some proprietary tools involved, that we might want to protect we really want the data to be open for everybody, so, when we go fly these these, flights and do this atmospheric, data collection. And the community, studies we, want really want to make sure this data is available to all of our partners that, are currently, working these technologies. So that they can make use of this data so, it's safe to say that however, long at some point when we have our first commercial supersonic aircraft, at an airport I mean, it's it may not look like our demonstrator, right so. The intent of the demonstrator, really is to be not physically, traceable, to a commercial product but we want it to boom to, be similar, to that commercial, product so that we're, really just simulating, the sonic boom and it's a sonic boom generator, and, we have many other challenges that we want to where we want to make it a cost-effective, solution the. Commercial, product would be a little more different well, of course of once you get the design there's also the element of simulation. Like, I didn't, even realize that you. Had simulators. For the low boom flight demonstrator, at this point in the process that that already begun I had a chance to sit down with Tim cops who works with the lb-ft, simulator. Let's check it out. We're. Here at Armstrong Flight Research Center talking. To Tim Cox a control, and dynamics, engineer who works on the engineering, simulator, for the low boom flight demonstrator, Tim. The big question, I have because I normally think of simulators, as, learning to fly and the ability to fly cool planes but, in this case this is an engineering. Simulator, what exactly, is an engineering, simulator, part, of it is there, is two pilot, training and things but what we, just finished now in terms of the low boon project, is a preliminary design for you and so in that preliminary design phase there's, a lot of design. Trade studies going on you know it's a lot of iteration, on the design and so, what you really want is a simulator, that doesn't. Have to be too fancy, and to reveal what's in the cockpit and everything but, you want to simulate that it has the best software, models, that go into it so that way you can do these design trades for, example with the control laws which are basically the software, that says when the pilot moves a stick how do the control surface is going to move there's, a lot to designing, that you want to control. Off to make the airplane stable, and then, you want them to provide good hailing qualities or good, dynamics. So that the pilot can fly it easily, and do what he needs to do with it so in that case would you do things like if, they said it's not as responsive, as I need, it to be as a pilot then you would look, at making that adjustment yes, so so, one of the things that we've done in a, study less face study is that we for, example we've. Put a couple of boxes on the runway small, boxes and said okay and we bring the pilots in and say now I want you to try to land inside. Those boxes and, so that's the challenging task for them so, they have to be in the loop trying to get the airplane to land touchdown where he wants a clam and the hope, there is that as he does that he will provide us comments back on whether. It's easy for him to do if it's hard if it's if it is hard why but. Kind of deficiencies, are there in, these control, laws so. That way we can now go back and fix them before, it gets too far down the process of the, design process now, do you ever do things like program, little, subroutines.
That Say don't, put the landing gear down just to just, a tweak the pilot Oh. A good idea I want to try to work that in I'm. Full of them yeah yeah, yeah, well we do things like present. With him potential, failures or, things like that or. Perhaps. Give, him, Gus. Or kind, of a difficult atmosphere, to fly in you might say so, that way he has to he. Has to earn his money you know we. Make it too easy it's no fun so this, is an X plane that we're talking, about building and since it doesn't exist how. Are you actually testing. In this simulator. So one of the things that's been going on is that there's been a lot of, data. Being collected in different models so first of all we take advantage of what's been done in the past so. We have a core. Simulation, architecture, that, we use that. Has a lot of the fundamental, stuff that's relevant, to any airplane in it we'll take for example of, a certain software model that goes into that sim we, can borrow, it from, a different airplane that's similar but then, as we go forward we'll do tests and we'll update that model, accordingly so one. Of the big things, that we look to is the aerodynamics, that's probably one of the models that has some of the most I think uncertainty. On it and so, there's a lot of work done on computerized. Code that can tell us what they. Think the arrow is and we, can do some Windtunnel tests to kind of support, that then. We can incorporate that into an ADA dynamics model start to fold those into the sim and that development. Process gets, continually, refined throughout this whole design phase, and as, we go forward it'll continue to be design development, it's, got to be one of the most unique features of developing. An x-point and you're literally. Going through this entire process, from scratch yes. It's. It is quite a process yeah, but but, there is a lot of tools, available to help us and in. Being able to and to develop these simulations, so, the, simulators, at first will be maybe, a little rough but, as we go along they'll get better and better they'll, have more complexity, to them, which. Will allow us to evaluate, more, and more different characteristics, of, the, airplane, and the pilot in the loop as well and so. That, that way hopefully. By the time it's ready to fly. We'll have a pretty decent sim, that. He can now go in and earn a lot of these characteristics. Before it gets in the airplane which. Will help make it safer for a much you so, if you do your job perfectly, he'll, get out of the plane after flying and say yeah no different than the simulate that's the goal that's the goal of course that's we'll, see how that works out. So. Spoiler alert Dave I didn't, actually get a chance to fly in the simulator, when we were out at Armstrong, I. Yeah, yeah, it's, cool yeah well. Some. Of us, did. Some of us didn't but what I'm wondering is how, about you have you had the opportunities, that a perk of the job do you get to fly in the simulator, well I wouldn't call it a perk but I generally everybody the engineering, folks that are on the project get, to fly the simulator, we all kind of make comments, and so it's good for everybody to kind of understand what's the realism, of the simulator, we're you know eventually trying to get that software and the hardware is realistic, as we can get it to, replicate the airplane so. You know while that's not I would call it a perk, it is certainly interesting, because you helps, you understand, how the airplane handles, in-flight did you provide any essential. Feedback, that may help the development, well I'm not as qualified as some of these guys like Tim that you talked to who really, have a better feel for how the handling, qualities of the airplane and how they would like it to behave in a high-speed and a low-speed environment, because that's really the trick here is the landing and the takeoff for, an airplane like this is gonna be much trickier and so that kind, of drives the need for additional simulation.
And That flight regime as well but you have flight experience, an, f-15. Younger. Days I say. You can you, sort of have a, good perspective of, real. Supersonic. Flight as opposed to looking at this engineering simulator is. There any similarities, between the two well. You, certainly don't, want the hardware very, similar, so you have the same displays, and, things set up in the airplane you, know supersonic, flight and the backseat of a fighter. Is just. The same as low-speed, flight you wouldn't know it when you're high altitude, you, don't really get that sensation. Of going. That much, faster so, but I think the simulators, are a valuable tool from a safety perspective and understanding how the airplane operates, and, that's a great point because, the. Lucky person who's going to be four BFD Niels Larsen. He's. Not going to be able to see ahead of him because he's gonna be looking at a computer screen while he's flying and, I had a chance to talk with Niels Larson at NASA Armstrong, and see what's it's gonna be like to fly the lb-ft. I'd. Say this is a pretty awesome hangar, there's a lot of cool aircraft here how long you been fine for NASA just over 11 years now and, you can have your favorite airplane in here whatever. I'm flying today you're, gonna be the the chief pilot for the lb-ft when, it gets built that's the plan right now anyway, you know this this is a different type of supersonic, aircraft, in let's say the f-18 or at 15 we're. Gonna be some of the challenges, that you're gonna be facing when you fly this new aircraft well probably the biggest one we have is there's no forward. Field of view in the current design so, almost like the spirit of st. Louis when you look at it and you know there's a big fuel tank in the way in this case there's a big nose in the way so, we can't see forward, so we're gonna have an external vision system, basically, cameras, and a screen. To be able to look forward I mean is that kind, of nerve-wracking, to not be able to see out the front when you're flying an aircraft well, it's, kind of funny because a lot of times you'll see we have some two-seaters, that's a single-seater behind us but when, you're in the back seat and you're an instructor there's. A lot of times you can't see out the front anyway because there's an ejection seat in front of you or somebody's, big head in front of you so, you, learn to fly, without that, I assume. That you're gonna have to have. A lot of hours in the simulator before we actually take the lb FD up it's for its first flight oh yeah we'll have to have a lot, of simulation both before the first flight and most likely as we continue to fly the airplane through the years we want to keep the, hours off the airplane so that it can be used for the. Research side and not so much for our proficiency, so we're hoping that the simulator, can be pretty accurate so that we can get our. Landings. Down in the simulator, so they don't have to you know burn all that time on the airplane before, we actually start collecting the data to, make sure that the aircraft can actually achieve this low sonic boom when we get the data that with it you know that we need you're. Going to learn about the aircraft first I'm assuming, taking. Off landing, getting used to the controls before. We actually take data for a low boom is, that fair to say that's right the first phase, that we'll have is actually ringing, out the airplane the classic, envelope, expansion, that you've always heard you know pushing the envelope go. And making sure that the airplane is safe to be flown in the envelope, where we're gonna need to go get the research and how long does that normally take to shake down an aircraft making sure it's ready for flight, it can be it really kind of depends on the complexity, of the airplane, we're, hoping, that for low boom that'll be somewhere around a year that we could do that and hopefully, there's there's not a whole lot of systems, that are incredibly. Complex, with. The airplane so we're, pretty, hopeful that that's realistic you're gonna be relying on all your experiences, and flying different aircraft being a test pilot being in the Air Force to make sure that you're successful at flying. This aircraft yeah that's right I've, flown about a hundred different airplanes some, of them only once and have, different, envelope, expansion, and air worthiness flight tests from my previous. Days in the Air Force and on exchange with the Navy and here. At Armstrong. We actually do some, air, worthiness, certification. Kind of stuff every now and then so we're, pretty familiar with what has to go on and, we're.
Just Excited to get back to explains it. Is is exciting, that the fact that hopefully one day that you know you, know business jets and even the commercial. Side we can fly supersonic, you know over land which would be pretty cool yeah I always give the example that, around here takes about three and a half hours to drive to Vegas and, when. I do some of the work in the f-15, you, know I'll take me about I don't know 20 minutes to fly over there maybe a little bit more turn around and I get back in about eight Wow. You know the kids really like that picture, this you're on the lb-ft it's your first flight test you're getting ready to take off, are. You gonna hear Chuck Yeager's voice in. Your head I. Met. Him before I don't know we're both from West Virginia originally. So, the. Stars are lining up you're. Making history yeah, there's not a day you don't think, about that when you look up at the skies around here I mean, we have an x1 sitting. Out in front of the, center here and you. Know that was a purpose-designed, airplane, to go and break the sound barrier right now we're building a purpose-designed, X plane again to, go and break the sound barrier again, to go faster, just like those original, X planes but this, time we're trying to go faster, but we're also trying to do it without. Producing. Too much of a boom too much impact, everybody else it's exciting, because you're back, you're back to the early explains, and some of that stuff so you, know it's it's gonna be exciting we're really looking forward to. You. Know I thought I had a cool job at NASA working, for NASA edge but I thought it Neal's he. Is gonna be the man of the hour when he flies the lb-ft as, a pilot that's. Like the that's. Like the Olympics, that's like the the, Super Bowl four and getting an X plane I mean flying an X plane for a test pilot that's the best job you can possibly get well, you know Nils and some of the other pilots that are working on the project have really done a great job so, the, glamour part of this is flying the airplane but really the pilots have gotten engaged in the design design. Of the simulators, how the airplane should handle safety, features so I think the pilots, in this case have really gotten engaged in the design from the early stages it's. Not just the glamorous part where you guys think it's all about flying there's a lot of other important, stuff that they have contributed to the project at this point well I'm looking forward to seeing his feedback when he first flies a plane how difficult, it is to actually take off and land not, really seeing what's going on in front of you and.
I Imagine that that as. You said Dave being, part of that design process if, you're gonna fly this X. Plane, as a test pilot you, want to know everything about how it was designed and how it functions and how it operates, because the, more you know the safer, you, will be yeah so by the time he flies this external, vision he'll be very familiar with it and so for, him to say this is first flight it won't it will be no impact to him at all well completely and even if the screen went out he would be completely, comfortable flying, the airplane so, even, in the failure modes that we anticipate, if they, if they happen it's gonna all. Gonna work out and it'll. Be you. Know no problem for him okay, David so why. The preliminary testing is done when, town testing is done, we. Now we've gotten to the point we actually can go and build, an aircraft right. And so it's a very exciting time I mean we really we've done the all, the concept, studies we've done a lot of the homework that we need to do done, a lot of the Windtunnel, testing to look at these types, of configurations and, the flight controls and things we need to understand, and so we're really at the, door to go build that demonstrator. That we need to do this so it's. Really it was very exciting time so, over the next about. Two to three years. I mean if we're gonna be in this phase of building, and testing and flying, this era right so it takes roughly two or three years to design detailed, design and build a demonstrator, and then we expect the first flight in the next couple of years and then we'll, kind of go do the testing at that point, understand. The atmospherics, and then work our way onto those community, studies that are the ultimate goal of the project so, is it safe to say by I. Don't. Know maybe within 10 15 years that there, could be people flying supersonic, over over land I think, so the regulatory process like, many governmental. Regulatory, processes moves a little slow sometimes and I take several paths, to get that to happen but I think they'll have the data in the next five or six years and then we can make those regulatory, changes, and that will help enable the the kind, of the commercial, products, to start coming. To market and really for industry to step up and make those products that we're all talking about so, the port blair could get to where he's going and half the amount of time well, I was gonna say it in about half the time to get all the regulatory change, there should be an xbox version of the lb-ft that I can be flying well that might be where you fly yeah yeah, and you'll be flying it probably on an 8k television, thankfully. Leather let's hope we right that would be perfect, hey, you're watching that bed and inside an outside look at all things NASA.