NASA’s Supersonic X-59 Aircraft Does Not Feature Any Nose Window – So How Do Pilots See Where They Are Going?

Supersonic planes are known for their speed. However, there is an issue of sonic booms that are created from the flight as the plane travels faster than the sound. This loud sound created can be heard for miles.

NASA is now working with Lockheed Martin Skunk Works to launch the state-of-the-art X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft that decreases the sonic booms to a barely-audible sonic thump. 

The new single-seat plane X-59 will be 99.7 feet long, 29.5 feet wide (30 m by 9 m) and will fly at an altitude of 55,000 feet (16.7 km) while moving at a speed of Mach 1.4, or 925 mph (1,488 km/h). there is one feature it will lack and that is a forward-facing window.

In place of this feature, the plane will use NASA’s eXternal Vision System (XVS). 

X-59 QueSST: The quiet supersonic aeroplane that could revolutionise air travel © Lockheed Martin

It was stated by Forbes that NASA’s XVS subsystem lead, Randy Bailey, calls the artificial vision system “the last line of defense” in the domain where the pilot can use the system to see an oncoming air vehicle. “Way before we get to that point, we have ATC [air traffic control] and ADS-B information assuming the other [air traffic] is on it,” he explained.

The X-59 does not have a forward canopy and it uses an “electronic window” instead.

0307 nasa supersonic wave 02

NASA’s electronic window XVS system features a pair of high-resolution cameras, and a 4K monitor. The first 4K camera is situated at the top and a little ahead of the cockpit and is augmented with synthetic vision capability, that allows the pilot to see through fog and clouds.

A second camera is under the nose that can extend during takeoffs and landings. It means the aircraft is fully covered and does not need a window. NASA’s XVS system gives all the visual information needed for a pilot to fly safely.

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