Testing components of supersonic aircraft in flight can be problematic, and the refined wing design of Aerion’s developmental supersonic business jet (SSBJ) is a case in point. The 40-inch by 80-inch redesigned airfoil section is attached to the belly of a NASA F-15B to test for aerodynamic and temperature effects at speeds up to Mach 2.0.
But a failure of the F-15’s afterburner has delayed the tests, which began on January 31 and are expected to consist of 10 flights over six to eight weeks. Due to budget constraints, repairs to the F-15 could take up to a month.
The natural laminar flow airfoil was patented by Aerion Chief Technology Officer Richard Tracy in 1994. Aerion has worked with NASA’s Dryden and Glenn research centers in exploring the effects of supersonic flight on airfoil design and engine inlet technology. The Aerion SSBJ would cruise at speeds up to Mach 1.6.