On Wednesday, December 6th, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), issued a “final rule” to facilitate the safe development of civil supersonic aircraft. With several companies racing to develop viable commercial passenger supersonic aircraft, this will come as welcome news – particularly to firms like Boom and Aerion.
“Today’s action is a significant step toward reintroducing civil supersonic flight and demonstrates the Department’s commitment to safe innovation,” -Elaine L. Chao, U.S. Transportation Secretary*
*Since the above statement was made, Secretary Chao has resigned due to recent events in Washington DC.
About the new ‘final rule’
According to an FAA press release, the new rule streamlines and clarifies procedures to obtain FAA approval for supersonic flight testing in the United States. Furthermore, this rule will help ensure that companies developing these aircraft clearly understand the process for gaining FAA approval to conduct flight testing, which is a key step in ultimately bringing their products to market.
In the proposed rule, the FAA had identified three areas intended to improve provisions:
- The first designates the proposed office in the FAA to which applicants are to send applications and direct questions.
- The second proposes to gather the scattered application requirements into a list and present them according to modern regulatory formatting standards.
- And finally, the FAA proposes the addition of a new reason for flight testing to accommodate future noise certification actions.
“The FAA supports the new development of supersonic aircraft as long as safety parameters are followed…the testing of supersonic aircraft at Mach 1 will only be conducted following consideration of any impact to the environment.” -Steve Dickson, FAA Administrator