MIAMI – In a press release today, the US Department of Transportation (DoT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a final rule to facilitate the safe development of civil supersonic aircraft. The rule streamlines and clarifies procedures to obtain FAA approval for supersonic flight testing in the United States.

The rule runs 41 pages and is available online here.

“Today’s action is a significant step toward reintroducing civil supersonic flight and demonstrates the Department’s commitment to safe innovation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

This rule will help ensure that companies developing these aircraft clearly understand the process for gaining FAA approval to conduct flight testing, which is a key step in ultimately bringing their products to market.

“The FAA supports the new development of supersonic aircraft as long as safety parameters are followed,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “The testing of supersonic aircraft at Mach 1 will only be conducted following consideration of any impact to the environment.”

DOT-FAA Headquarters at Washington, D.C. Photo: Matthew Bisanz.


The rule’s summary is as follows:

In consideration of the continuing development of a new generation of supersonic aircraft, FAA is modernizing the procedure for requesting a special flight authorization to operate in excess of Mach 1 over land in the United States. The renewed interest in development of supersonic airplanes caused FAA to review its application procedures that allow for flight tests of these aircraft.

This final rule modifies the criteria for applying for these authorizations and moves the material from an appendix to a regulation to make it easier to find and understand. Outside the context of special flight authorizations under this final rule, the FAA continues generally to prohibit civil supersonic flight over land in the United States.

The Department and the FAA anticipate taking additional regulatory actions to enable the development of supersonic aircraft.

Featured image: Artist’s concept. Image: BOOM Supersonic.