Even when active, Concorde was prohibited from flying at supersonic speeds over the USA due to the impact of sonic booms. Indeed, the inability of Concorde to fly over the majority of habituated land meant it had to follow elongated and inefficient flight routes, greatly damaging its efficiency.
Eradicating these sonic booms is therefore key to any future supersonic jet being greenlit for production, with nations worldwide concerned with the ‘boom carpet’ (the avenue on a jet’s flight path where sonic booms can be heard). Three key developments in this area have been the recent introduction of far thinner wings than Concorde, the repositioning of the engines above the wings – this effectively turns the wings into shields, diverting pressure waves away from the ground – and the creation of pressure-sculpting air inlets for the aircraft’s turbines.
While no physical jet has yet to enter production, experimentation by US space agency NASA in 2011 into sonic booms confirmed that, if the new designs could adequately hide the engine outlets within a narrow fuselage, then almost all audible noise could be cancelled out.