NASA’s X-59A Quiet Supersonic Technology aircraft (QueSST) now has the engine that will power it in flight. The installation of the GE Aviation F414-GE-100 engine took place at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California, earlier this month.
The 13-foot-long engine packs 22,000 pounds of propulsion energy and is expected to propel the X-59 at speeds up to Mach 1.4 and an altitude of around 55,000 feet. Installation of the engine marks a major milestone as the X-59 nears assembly completion, taxi tests, and the first flight.
“The engine installation is the culmination of years of design and planning by the NASA, Lockheed Martin, and General Electric Aviation teams,” said Ray Castner, NASA’s propulsion performance lead for the X-59. “I am both impressed with and proud of this combined team that’s spent the past few months developing the key procedures, which allowed for a smooth installation.”
NASA’s quiet supersonic X-59 aircraft is designed to reduce the sound of sonic booms, which occur when an aircraft flies at supersonic speeds, to a quiet sonic thump. This will be demonstrated when NASA flies the X-59 over communities around the U.S. starting in 2025, with the goal of providing the data necessary to open the future to commercial supersonic flight over land, greatly reducing flight times.
The X-59 team will follow the aircraft’s assembly with a series of ground tests and, ultimately, the first flight by the end of 2023. If everything goes according to the plans, the experimental aircraft might pave the way for the return of civilian supersonic aerial transport.