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National Aviation Day

August 19, 2021

August 19 is National Aviation Day! To celebrate this day Capitology Blog is highlighting some of the latest innovations in the aviation industry. For more on the history of National Aviation Day, visit Encyclopedia Britannica.

NASA highlighted three areas where the agency contributed to aviation innovations in 2020, in spite of the challenges of a global pandemic:

  • Quiet supersonic flight
  • Advanced air mobility
  • Electrified aircraft propulsion

Read on for a summary of these innovations and check out NASA’s full article for more information.

Quiet Supersonic Flight

NASA is making strides toward technology that will allow for quiet supersonic flight, cutting flight times across the US by half.

Traveling faster than the speed of sounds results in a sonic boom, which sounds like an explosion, and would be less than ideal for frequent commercial flights. The Low-Boom Flight Demonstration mission is focused on lowering the volume of that sonic boom.

To accomplish this, NASA is building the X-59 QueSST airplane, which is designed to reduce those booms into “sonic thumps”.

“The unique design of the X-59 that quiets a sonic boom requires the cockpit be farther back and lower in the fuselage with no forward-facing window,” says NASA. “The eXternal Vision System (XVS) resolves the issue by giving the pilot a forward-facing view via a novel display system. The XVS successfully completed tests in 2020.”

NASA plans to begin test flights of the X-59 QueSST in 2022.

Advanced Air Mobility

On a smaller scale, quite literally, NASA is also focused on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The agency was awarded the 2020 Government Invention of the Year for its patent on traffic management of UAS.

“This technology, called ‘Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management to Enable Civilian Low Altitude Goods and Service Delivery by UAS,’” says NASA, “allows unmanned aerial systems to maintain safe and efficient operations for the delivery of goods and services.”

The goal of the technology is to adopt existing techniques used for traditional aircraft – such as air traffic controllers and traffic management services – to UAS by accessing the National Airspace System. NASA is also researching how best to utilize UAS in response to emergency situations.

As drone use for both commercial and personal purposes becomes more and more popular, it’s vital that gaps in tracking, such as those NASA has identified, are remedied.

Electrified Aircraft Propulsion

With climate change being a key issue around the world, NASA is looking to address aviation’s impact by developing an all-electric plane. The X-57 completed functional ground testing, wind tunnel testing, and high-voltage testing.

The X-57 would not only be more environmentally friendly than current aircraft, it would be more quieter and more efficient, with an estimated five-time reduction in energy use.

“NASA’s primary goal for X-57 is to share the electric-propulsion design, lessons learned, and airworthiness process with regulators as new electric aircraft markets begin to emerge,” says NASA.

Capitol Tech offers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in aviation and unmanned systems. For more information, contact admissions@captechu.edu.

Capitol Tech also participates in a number of programs that offer tuition benefits for active military and veterans, including those in the Air Force. For more information on this benefit, including which military and veterans are eligible, visit the Military and Veteran’s web page.