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For Release: May 13, 1996
Catherine E. Watson
(804) 864-6122

Release No. 96-036

NASA Engineers Learn How to Fly Supersonic Jet of the Future

How do you flight test an airplane that hasn't been built yet - an airplane that only exists as thousands of mathematical equations on a NASA computer?

Engineers and test pilots from NASA, Boeing, McDonnell-Douglas, and Calspan Corp. are flight testing the next-generation High-Speed Civil Transport (HSCT) without having to build one. The U.S. Air Force's Total In-Flight Simulator (TIFS) airplane has been programmed to make the TIFS airplane fly the way engineers think the real HSCT will fly.

A series of flights with the TIFS airplane will test the future HSCT's flight controls and pilot displays - determining which of several methods will work best in the real HSCT. The most demanding flight tasks - approaches, landings, and low-speed maneuvering near the airport - will be evaluated. Engineers will vary the way the engines and flight controls respond to the pilot, and even mask the windows to simulate the view from the cockpit of the future HSCT.

As envisioned by NASA's High-Speed Research (HSR) program, the next-generation HSCT would fly 300 passengers at more than twice the speed of sound - crossing the Pacific or Atlantic in less than half the time presently required on modern subsonic, wide-bodied jets - at a ticket price comparable with current non-discounted subsonic fares.

The technology to make the HSCT possible is being developed by a research team that includes several major U.S. aerospace companies. The NASA HSR team is led by the HSR Program Office, located at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. The TIFS flight tests will be performed by Calspan Corp., Buffalo, New York, which operates the TIFS airplane for the U.S. Air Force. Interviews, photos and video b-roll are available.

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