Melrose native trying to solve sonic boom problem

April 20, 2018 06:49 AM

Have you ever been cramped in coach on a flight for hours, just wishing you were at your destination? NASA wants to cut your flight time in half by doubling the speed of your plane.

It's possible. It's just very loud. Now Lockheed Martin and NASA think they can create a low-boom plane. Just as fast, but not even close to as loud.

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"You just hear a soft rumble," said Melrose native and Lockheed Martin aerospace engineer Dr. Michael Buonanno. "It's been used in an analogy that it will sound like your neighbor closing his or her car door in their driveway."

Buonanno is in charge of the $247.5 million project to build the X-Plane. NASA wants to record the sound the plane makes as it flies faster than the speed of sound. If it's quiet enough, the federal government may allow supersonic commercial flights over land.

"Specifically tailor the shockwaves that come about when an airplane flies supersonically, and make sure that their strength and location is appropriate, so they don't coalesce," Buonanno said.

Buonanno got three degrees at Georgia Tech in aerospace engineering. But his whole career started in grade school history class in the Capital Region.

"I went to elementary school at Hoosic Valley in Schaghticoke and I had a really good history teacher as an elementary schooler," he said. "I got interested in aviation history and started reading a lot about airplanes and then figured out it was so interesting that I wanted to learn how to design them as well."

Now maybe Buonanno might go down in aviation history himself by making the supersonic speed quiet.


WNYT Staff

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