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How The Supersonic Aircraft Fly Faster
Birth of Supersonic Flights:

After World War-II in 1945, it created new generation supersonic aircrafts in the aerospace field. Aircraft engineers tried to use the jet and rocket technology which was used in the world war in civilian aircrafts. These developments led to the era of supersonic flight or the flying faster than the speed of the sound using jet engines.



What is speed of the sound and MACH Number?


The speed of sound, in air at sea level, is about 1,200km per hour.The speed of sound is also known as Mach 1. Mach 2 = 2x Speed of sound and Mach 3 = 3x Speed of sound.


Speed of the sound in air



The Science Behind The Supersonic Aircrafts:


Sonic boom created @ Su-30 aircraft


When the aircraft flies at Mach>1, a sonic boom is produced. Sonic boom is produced due to the shock waves which are produced when the flight is flying greater than the speed of the sound. The aerodynamics of supersonic flight is called compressible flow. There are several design principles which helps to achieve this supersonic speed in the aircraft.



Aerodynamic Design of Supersonic Aircrafts: 


There are different challenges which the supersonic flights would face when compared to the subsonic flights (flights less than speed of the sound). There is increase in drag in the supersonic flights.


These are removed by different wing shape which have good aerodynamic shape for supersonic flights.



Supersonic Wings:


Supersonic flow over an aircraft



There are different types of wings shapes designed for supersonic flights.


Supersonic Airfoil Shapes used for supersonic jets



Swept wing or Sweep wing is the most commonly used wing shape which are used for supersonic aircrafts.


Supersonic flow over double wedged wing @ supersonic speeds



The double wedged wing shape would give better lift/drag ratio which would increase the aerodynamic efficiency of the aircraft. The plan-form section is more crucial in supersonic aircrafts when compared to subsonic flights. 



Greater Engine Power:


There were several types of engine which are used for supersonic flights. They are,


      1. Turbojet

      2. Turbofan

      3. Ram jet 





Turbo jet Engine


Early supersonic aircrafts used turbojets for flights. But, it is not fuel efficient for long range flights and it the thrust produced is limited. So, afterburner is used to get extra thrust by adding extra fuel in the nozzle exhaust of the engine.



2. Turbofan:



Turbo fan Engine


The turbofan engine is the fuel-efficient engine in today’s supersonic flights. The turbofan engine has another feature called “Bypass “which bypass cold air around the core the engine. This give more thrust with less fuel. The combination of afterburner and the bypass are used in supersonic flights.



3. Ramjet: 



The ramjet engine is used by dropping from another plane at higher altitudes. The high-speed air acts as a feeder and ignites the engine for supersonic and sometimes hypersonic(Mach>6) flights.



First Supersonic Flight:


Bell X-1 – The First Supersonic Aircraft flown @ Mach>1


Bell X-1 is the first supersonic flight which is test by NASA in Mojave Desert, California.The flight test was successful, and this paved way for the development of modern supersonic jets by Lockheed martin and the Boeing company.



First Supersonic Commercial Aircraft:


Concorde – The First Supersonic Commercial Aircraft


The Concorde was jointly built by Britain and France. The first commercial aircraft which flown at supersonic speeds and created history.



Fastest Aircraft In The World:


SR-71 Blackbird


The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird holds the official world airspeed record. On July 28, 1976, it flew 2,188 miles per hour in California, with Eldon as the pilot.



Pilot Who Flown First Supersonic Flight:


Chuck Yeager with Bell X-1 aircraft


On October 14, 1947, Major Charles “Chuck” Yeager sat in the X-1 aircraft and made history by being the first pilot who had flown first supersonic flight in the world in Edwards Air force base in California.