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NASA supersonic aircraft will not have windshields, pilots watching through 4K screens!


If everything goes smoothly, then in 2021, NASA test pilots will conduct a supersonic aircraft with a super long nose design, but what they need to care about is that the plane will not be available. Front windshield in the cockpit, instead, the 4K screen displays images from high resolution cameras in real time!




NASA has a good reason for setting up this cockpit on an X-59 test aircraft – the full name is X-59 QueSST (Quiet Supersonic Transport), a joint project between NASA and military contractor Lockheed Martin. It started in 2016. It is expected to reach the cruise speed of Mach 1.42 (1510 km / h) and will especially break the sound wall without causing too much noise. If the X-59 could pierce the sound wall with a lower noise level than a traditional supersonic aircraft, the fact that it flew right above land would not affect the residents below, so that technology This can help commercial aviation back to the bar since the days of the Concorde.

So why not need a windshield?

To keep the aerodynamic characteristics, NASA designed X-59 a part of the nose to 15.24 m long and if the canopy (canopy) glass cover would interrupt the flow of air around the aircraft. In addition, the design of a long, sloping nose-shaped glass will not bring good visibility to the pilot, Randy Bailey – head of the X-59's development of the observation system at NASA explained.



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So instead of looking for a way to integrate the traditional windshield, a high resolution camera located at the top of the nose of the plane will provide images. Another camera under the nose will provide a downward-facing view that allows the pilot to see the runway during takeoff / landing. This camera has a medium resolution and it is designed to open and close just like the landing gear can be hidden in the body to optimize aerodynamic characteristics. When the X-59 flies at supersonic speed, only a 4K camera provides real-time vision information on the pilot's front screen.

What about an error?

Concorde's nose design was old, along with the Tu-144 foldable.

A core problem that NASA needs to address is how to ensure the system operates at the lowest latency – ie time to transfer images from the camera to the screen so that what the camera is seeing is what the pilot does. see Too high a delay will cause motion sickness (motion sickness or aircraft) – occurs when the inner ear senses the actual movement of the aircraft but the eye sees something that doesn't match. Bailey said they need to keep the latency below 1/10 second to avoid causing such problems. Currently, the system latency is 67 ms or 0.067 seconds, which is less than 1/10 second.

Bailey said: "The goal is if we design it correctly, you will see the screen as the real window."

And a more frightening thought is: What will happen if the system is broken in whole or in part? What will pilots see?

NASA has prepared for this situation because of the fact that there are two cameras, if one fails, the other "hope" still works even though they look in different directions. If the main screen fails, one of the two instrument screens below can display images from the external camera and also two computers work together to handle the entire system. In short, this system has a backup mechanism. "I'm not saying it will never fail," Bailey admitted.



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However, the failed system is not yet catastrophic because even without the front windshield, the pilot's cockpit still has glass around the sides and above the head, providing some perspective. More importantly, the pilot does not necessarily need a front view to land the aircraft because the X-59's cockpit is equipped with many components similar to the T-38 training aircraft with 2 seats in the layout. before after. In front of the two pilots, there are control tools and monitors that display the parameters needed to drive the aircraft.

Bailey said: "In fact they can land the plane without looking ahead. They have certain skills and operations to fly as well as get information to guide the way from the screen hanging in front of them, from there. Help them find the runway and land. " It is known that only three test pilots were selected for X-59 testing and no flights were available.



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X-59 helps NASA collect data on noise reduction for supersonic flights down to an acceptable level when flying above land – one of the major obstacles that makes supersonic air traffic still can't come back yet. Currently many companies participating in this field are focused on noise reduction solutions and NASA cannot of course stand out as a leader. However, no company has used a windshield replacement screen like what NASA did with X-59!



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