2008 – 2009 Competition

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———————–Photos from the 2008 Awards Presentation-———————–

Fundamental Aeronautics Student Competition 2008-2009

Technical Area:  Supersonic Flight Project


For the first time in the history of commercial aviation, we have taken a step backward. We had the capability to fly faster than sound with commercial transports, as demonstrated by the Concorde.  There are no commercial supersonic aircraft flying today.   How do we enable people to cover large distances (across continents and oceans) quickly without placing an excessive burden on our environment?

The Supersonics Project, part of NASA’s Fundamental Aeronautics Program, has identified a set of key technical challenges that are barriers to success for practical supersonic cruise vehicles.  Some of these barriers include:

  • Efficiency challenges, including supersonic cruise efficiency.  There are two principal elements to supersonic cruise efficiency—propulsion efficiency and airframe aerodynamic efficiency—and these must be treated as an integrated challenge.
  • Environmental challenges, including airport noise reduction, sonic boom modeling, and high-altitude emissions reduction.

For this academic year challenge, we ask students to put together their ideas (high school level) or design (college level) for a highly efficient and environmentally friendly, low boom, commercial aircraft with an Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of 2020.*  A successful design will addresses the efficiency, environmental and performance challenges described below.

Small Supersonic Airliner Design Goals:

  • Cruise speed = Mach 1.6 to 1.8
  • Design Range = 4000 nautical miles
  • Payload = 35 – 70 passenger range (mixed class)
  • Fuel Efficiency = 3 passenger-miles per pound of fuel
  • Takeoff field length < 10,000 feet

There are challenges for four levels of students: See the High School and University links below for the details

High School Contest

University Contest

Recommended reading:

NASA TM 4246.pdf



+ Past Awardees+ 2008 Awardees, High School

+ 2008 Awardees, University