WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin's experimental supersonic plane has officially entered production, the defense giant announced Friday.
Earlier this year, NASA awarded Lockheed a contract worth nearly $250 million to develop an aircraft capable of reaching supersonic speed without creating the deafening sonic boom that comes with breaking the sound barrier.
Lockheed answered with its X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology aircraft, which is designed to cruise at 55,000 feet and reach speeds of about 940 miles per hour. The new aircraft is expected to create a noise level akin to the sound of a car door closing.
Current regulations ban commercial supersonic aircraft from operating over land. New companies like Boom Supersonic are trying to make use of the technology for transoceanic routes, with backing from investors like Richard Branson and Japan Airlines.
But Lockheed Martin and NASA want to advance the technology through noise reduction to overturn regulations. The new experimental plane is designed to return supersonic passenger air travel to routes over land. The last such flight was by the Concorde in October 2003.