Spike Aerospace took to the skies for the first time on Saturday as it tested a subsonic, subscale version of its planned S-512 supersonic passenger plane. The unmanned SX-1.2 prototype demonstrator took off from a private airfield in New England with KrishnaKumar Malu and Mike Ridlon piloting it remotely on the first of a series of seven short flights throughout the day, to prove the validity of the aircraft’s aerodynamics.
Saturday’s flight took place under what the company called perfect weather with winds of 7 to 10 mph (11 to 16 km/h) and the temperature hovering around 70º F (21º C). During the tests, telemetry of the flight characteristics and other performance data were recorded and aircraft’s center of mass, balance, and control surfaces were adjusted between flights.
“These test flights are providing incredibly valuable information which we can use to refine the design,” says Malu. “I am very excited about how helpful these tests will be to our supersonic development program.”
The data from the tests will be used to modify the design of the full sized S-512. This will be a 22-passenger supersonic jet with a range of 6,200 mi (9,977 km) that’s designed to fly over standard airliner routes at Mach 1.6 (1,218 mph, 1,960 km/h) thanks to its low-boom signature fuselage using a modified delta wing design. In addition, it will be one of the first jets to replace traditional windows with video walls providing a stem-to-stern view of the exterior.
The S-512 is being developed with the assistance of Siemens, Quartus, Aernnova, Greenpoint, BRPH, and others with a projected flight date of 2021 and first deliveries in 2023. Currently, Spike is making modifications to the SX-1.2 for more test flights in November, followed by construction of the successor SX-1.3 demonstrator.
“The SX-1.2 test flights were conducted in a real world situation, and provide significantly more data than wind tunnel tests done in an artificial environment,” says Vik Kachoria, President and CEO of Spike Aerospace. “We were able to test not only handling, but also a range of other considerations.”