When the supersonic Concorde was first created, passengers in the U.S. looked forward to quick trips between major cities on the East and West coasts. But that hope was soon dashed when it was discovered that the Concorde emitted an annoying sonic “boom.” But hope has been rekindled, because a modified version may be quiet enough to fly over land.

Irene Mona Klotz writes in bbcnews.com that a test of a F-5E supersonic jet with a modified nose shape proves that the new shape reduces the intensity of its sonic boom. “This technology could eventually enable unrestricted supersonic flight over land,” says Charles Boccadoro, of Northrop Grumman, which built the jet. Sensors on the ground and aboard nearby planes showed the modified jet produced a sonic boom with one-third less intensity than the standard jet. “There was no change in performance,” says Northrop’s Jim Hart. “They were both flying at full-throttle?about Mach 1.36.”

When airplanes travel faster than sound waves, which move at about 750 mph., the pressure waves they produce merge to form shock waves, which are heard as sonic booms when they hit the ground. But the new nose shape keeps pressure waves from merging, reducing the intensity of the sonic boom.

The Concordes of Air France and British Airwaves have been grounded due to old age and the tragic accident of several years ago. But new Concordes with modified noses could be on the drawing boards soon, leading to quick trips between New York and Los Angeles.

Why wait for the Concorde to come back? There’s an easier way to fly.

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