The nature of the sonic boom is associated with shockwaves that are longitudinal waves generated by an object that travels faster than the speed of sound. Such shockwaves caused by large supersonic aircraft, are perceived by people on the ground as a sound similar to an explosion or thunder.
Exposure to aircraft noise is known to be linked to health issues, such as disturbance of sleep, developmental delays in children, obesity, and cardiovascular problems. The International Council on Clean Transportation report published in 2019 warns that a network of 2,000 supersonic aircraft linking 500 city-city pairs would potentially create sonic booms as frequently as once per five minutes in some regions. In view of an imminent return to commercial supersonic flight, the issue of supersonic aircraft noise is back in the spotlight of the industry and research community.
Recent research proves that it is possible to mitigate the sonic boom issue via a careful shaping of the vehicle geometry. The idea behind the low-boom supersonic aircraft concepts is the minimization of the amplitude of longitudinal sound waves also called N-waves.
The use of CFD in the field of supersonic aeronautics significantly cuts the time to market and associated development costs. Sonic Boom Prediction Workshops organized by NASA aim at assessment of the sonic boom prediction methods reliability. The near-field pressure signatures prediction with CFD is perhaps its key component. Every subsequent workshop features cases with lower noise signatures, thus bringing new challenges for CFD codes. NUMECA is active in this field and was involved in the CFD investigation of a sonic boom and aerodynamic prediction of NASA Concept 25D Powered supersonic aircraft developed in the framework of recent research work.
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