Jetmakers: Supersonic flight, without the boom

Supersonic flight may be making a comeback. Nine years after the retirement of the Concorde jetliner, aircraft manufacturers catering to CEOs and wealthy individuals are researching ways to break the sound barrier without the window-rattling sonic booms outlawed over land in many countries. Gulfstream Aerospace is experimenting with a telescoping rod protruding from a jet’s nose to disrupt the sound waves that cause sonic booms, and Boeing and Lockheed Martin have devised slender fuselages and rear-mounted engines to reduce the drag that contributes to the noise. Trying another tack, billionaire Robert Bass’s aerospace company, Aerion, is testing a new wing design.

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