A supersonic plane without a windshield: the pilot of the X-59 will use cameras and a 4K screen to see what is in front of him
NASA wants supersonic aircraft to be quieter, avoiding the “noise bomb” they cause when crossing the sound barrier and that can cause problems in populated areas under their route. And it’s on its way to making it happen with the X-59, an aircraft specially designed to make less noise. To achieve this, among other things, the plane has no front window.
The idea of flying at Mach 1.4 (or 1,488 km / h) without being able to see what is right in front of you does not sound too prudent, but NASA has devised a system with which to allow the pilot to have a good overview of the road that is touring. In a nutshell: HD cameras and a good 4K screen.
Objective: to be able to travel faster than sound on dry land
Its managers have dubbed it the XVS or ‘External Vision System’: a 4K camera mounted on the front of the plane will allow the pilot to have before him a live high-resolution video of what is in front of him, with the advantage of be able to see through clouds or fog thanks to an interface that we could consider augmented reality.
The only windows that the pilot will have are going to be the side windows, in addition to a transparent dome on the top of the plane. A second camera placed in the lower part of the device would provide additional images during take-off and landing.
In the long term, the X-59 wants to show that supersonic aircraft have a niche in the civil and commercial market. Countries like the United States have prohibited supersonic flights over the mainland due to the effects of their noise on the population (that is why these flights were transoceanic), but this could change thanks to these advances. The X-59 will begin test flights in 2022.