Supersonic jet developer Spike Aerospace has successfully flown its SX-1.2 demonstrator aircraft for the first time. The aircraft is an unmanned subsonic, smaller scale prototype of Spike’s 18-passenger S-512 Quiet Supersonic Jet, which the company aims to have flying by 2021.
The S-512 jet will have a range of 6200 miles and a cruise speed of Mach 1.6, saving 50% on flight times. Spike, which is based in Boston, Massachusetts, has designed the aircraft to have a low-boom signature, so it can fly overland without creating sonic booms.
According to the company, the seven test flights confirmed the validity of the aerodynamic design of the aircraft and provided data about the flight controls of the aircraft. Adjustments were made to the aircraft’s center of mass, balance and control surfaces between each of the test flights to produce additional performance data.
Krishna Kumar Malu, the test pilot for the SX-1.2, said, “These test flights are providing incredibly valuable information which we can use to refine the design. I am very excited about how helpful these tests will be to our supersonic development program.”
Vik Kachoria, president and CEO of Spike Aerospace, said “The SX-1.2 test flights were conducted in the real world, and provide more data than wind tunnel tests in an artificial environment. We were able to test not only handling, but also a range of other considerations.”
Engineers at Spike plan to make more changes to the design of the aircraft based on the data collected from the initial tests. More test flights with the SX-1.2 will be held in early November.
Work on the next aircraft in the demonstrator series has also begun. Spike intends to have the final version, the S-512 aircraft, flying by early 2021, with customer deliveries beginning in 2023.
Spike is one of several companies developing supersonic business jets. Denver-based Boom Supersonic plans to have its first demonstrator, the XB-1, in the air during 2018 and to be supplying the aircraft by the middle of next decade. Nevada-based Aerion’s AS2 business jet, which has been designed to reach speeds of Mach 1.5, is also being developed with the goal of it being commercially available by the mid 2020s.