In Support of Repealing the Ban on Civil Supersonic Flight

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In Support of Repealing the Ban on Civil Supersonic Flight

June 19, 2018

Yesterday, the Committee for Justice joined the Niskanen Center, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Competitive Enterprise Institute, the R Street Institute, and TechFreedom in calling on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to overturn the ban on supersonic flight. 

 

Fifty years after the Concorde's maiden flight, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Act of 2018 gives Congress the opportunity to revive supersonic transportation by requiring the FAA to develop reasonable noise standards that would be informed by noise levels tolerated for non-aviation. 

 

As the letter notes, 

 

Additional advancements in materials science, aerospace design, and noise abatement technologies have also made it possible to substantially mitigate the noise created by sonic booms — so much so that to a person on the ground, an overhead sonic boom could one day soon "sound about as loud as a lawn mower or motorcycle, and only last about half a second.”

 

This must remain a key priority of the FAA Reauthorization Act. Civil supersonic flight — and the thousands of American jobs that come with it — can be restored by Congress. 

 

You can find the full letter below and in PDF form here:

Dear Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson:

 

Fifty years after the Concorde’s maiden flight, the ingenuity of American innovators and entrepreneurs means the next generation of commercial supersonic transportation is right around the corner. We, the undersigned, support the return of supersonic transport in the strongest terms, and as a form of transportation that will be far more accessible to ordinary people than the Concorde ever was. We urge you to ensure it remains a key priority of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018.

 

This FAA Reauthorization will be the first time Congress has legislated on the issue of supersonic transportation since 1968. The 1973 rulemaking on civil supersonic flights overland that followed[1] inadvertently stymied research and development into supersonic passenger jets in general, and “low boom” designs in particular. This regulation set back private sector aerospace innovation substantially. Fortunately, R&D has continued despite the ban, and recent technological breakthroughs in manufacturing and computer design have enabled several American companies to make significant progress towards the goal of introducing affordable supersonic passenger flights. Additional advancements in materials science, aerospace design, and noise abatement technologies have also made it possible to substantially[2] mitigate the noise created by sonic booms — so much so that to a person on the ground, an overhead sonic boom could one day soon “sound about as loud as a lawn mower or motorcycle, and only last about half a second.”[3]

 

Now is the ideal time for Congress to repeal the ban on operating civil supersonic aircraft in the United States, and direct the FAA to develop a sonic boom noise standard that is, in the words of the amendment put forward by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), “economically reasonable and technologically practicable.” Doing so would provide the investment certainty American entrepreneurs need to unleash a renaissance in commercial aviation innovation, create thousands of American manufacturing jobs, and strengthen the United States’ position as a global technological leader.

 

Respectfully,

 

Samuel Hammond
Poverty and Welfare Policy Analyst
Niskanen Center

 

Ryan Hagemann
Senior Director for Policy
Niskanen Center

 

Gregory S. McNeal, JD/PhD
Professor of Law & Public Policy
Pepperdine University

 

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

 

Committee for Justice

 

TechFreedom

 

Competitive Enterprise Institute

 

R Street Institute

 

[1] 14 C.F.R. § 91.817 (2018) (“No person may operate a civil aircraft in the United States at a true flight Mach number greater than 1…”).

[2] Eli Dourado and Samuel Hammond, Make America Boom Again: How to Bring Back Supersonic Transport, Mercatus Center at George Mason University, research paper, Oct. 2016, https://www.mercatus.org/system/files/mercatus-douradosupersonic-transport-v1.pdf

[3] See http://www.supersonicmyths.com/.

 

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