Atmospheric effects of stratospheric aircraft - A status report from NASA's High-Speed Research ProgramStudies have indicated that, with sufficient technology development, future high-speed civil transport aircraft could be economically competitive with long-haul subsonic aircraft. However, uncertainty about atmospheric pollution, along with community noise and sonic boom, continues to be a major concern which is being addressed in the planned six-year High-Speed Research Program begun in 1990. Building on NASA's research in atmospheric science and emissions reduction, current analytical predictions indicate that an operating range may exist at altitudes below 20 km (i.e., corresponding to a cruise Mach number of approximately 2.4) where the goal level of 5 gm equivalent NO2 emissions/kg fuel will deplete less than one percent of column ozone. Because it will not be possible to directly measure the impact of an aircraft fleet on the atmosphere, the only means of assessment will be prediction. The process of establishing credibility for the predicted effects will likely be complex and involve continued model development and testing against climatological patterns. In particular, laboratory simulation of heterogeneous chemistry and other effects, and direct measurements of well understood tracers in the troposphere and stratosphere are being used to improve the current models.
Wesoky, Howard L. (NASA Headquarters Washington, DC United States)
Prather, Michael J. (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies New York, United States)