What are facilities doing about the Concorde?

Evan Reiter

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What are facilities doing about the Concorde?
« on: January 07, 2021, 06:19:34 am »
How are VATUSA facilities treating the Concorde? I've seen that aircraft on the network with increasing regularity and will get requests from departures to "accelerate" or "exceed Mach 1.0". Obviously, this isn't a scenario that happens in real life anymore, although it's getting closer (see below).

What are facilities doing with these requests from pilots? I don't see much in the 7110, presumably because it's been 20+ years since we've had to deal with civilian supersonic flight. Do we have any standard across VATUSA?

Background:

The FAA recently published an updated rule for approving supersonic aircraft for test flights. In their press release from January 6:
Quote
Today the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a final rule to facilitate the safe development of civil supersonic aircraft. The rule streamlines and clarifies procedures to obtain FAA approval for supersonic flight testing in the United States.
 
“Today’s action is a significant step toward reintroducing civil supersonic flight and demonstrates the Department’s commitment to safe innovation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
 
This rule will help ensure that companies developing these aircraft clearly understand the process for gaining FAA approval to conduct flight testing, which is a key step in ultimately bringing their products to market.
The rule rule doesn't (yet) change 14 CFR 91.817 ("No person may operate a civil aircraft in the United States at a true flight Mach number greater than 1 except in compliance with conditions and limitations in an authorization to exceed Mach 1 issued to the operator under appendix B of this part.") although if supersonic flight does return to civil aviation that will happen at some point.


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Anthony Santanastaso

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Re: What are facilities doing about the Concorde?
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2021, 06:46:41 am »
How are VATUSA facilities treating the Concorde? I've seen that aircraft on the network with increasing regularity and will get requests from departures to "accelerate" or "exceed Mach 1.0". Obviously, this isn't a scenario that happens in real life anymore, although it's getting closer (see below).

What are facilities doing with these requests from pilots? I don't see much in the 7110, presumably because it's been 20+ years since we've had to deal with civilian supersonic flight. Do we have any standard across VATUSA?

Good question, Evan. At ZNY, we routinely encounter the Concorde at JFK and have specific operations for the aircraft built into the JFK SOP. You can check them all out here.

Some highlights:

  • After the initial departure heading/climb and around 4,000’-5,000’, speed restrictions were cancelled and SSTs were allowed to accelerate to approximately 400 knots below 10,000’. This was a special authorization from the Port Authority and FAA.
  • They are cleared to an initial cruise altitude of FL290 and must wait until Ocean airspace before climbing higher and accelerating to supersonic speeds.

We will remain in compliance with 14 CFR § 91.817 until such time the rules change in order to accommodate whatever the impact of the return of supersonic flight is to civil aviation.
Anthony Santanastaso
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VATUSA
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Evan Reiter

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Re: What are facilities doing about the Concorde?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2021, 04:10:37 pm »
Thanks, that helps!
They are cleared to an initial cruise altitude of FL290 and must wait until Ocean airspace before climbing higher and accelerating to supersonic speeds.
By "ocean airspace", are you saying a certain point over water or literally oceanic airspace (east of Gander Domestic)? Trying to figure out if Canada would be dealing with acceleration/deceleration in real life or if that's something Boston would have done.


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Anthony Santanastaso

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Re: What are facilities doing about the Concorde?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2021, 04:14:18 pm »
Thanks, that helps!
They are cleared to an initial cruise altitude of FL290 and must wait until Ocean airspace before climbing higher and accelerating to supersonic speeds.
By "ocean airspace", are you saying a certain point over water or literally oceanic airspace (east of Gander Domestic)? Trying to figure out if Canada would be dealing with acceleration/deceleration in real life or if that's something Boston would have done.

IIRC, it's when they would speak to ZNY non-radar ocean sectors, after the point at which I would normally terminate them if I worked only domestic ZNY. I'm sorry if this isn't clear enough. I can dig around for some historical data from RW retired controllers.

Found this: https://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=22754

It seems as though the requirement was until a point over the ocean in which a sonic boom would not be felt/heard. According to the USAF, that is 1 mile for every 1,000 feet (https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/104540/sonic-boom/).

Not sure if this helps (probably does not), but it might give a clue as to what was done.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2021, 04:35:09 pm by Anthony Santanastaso »
Anthony Santanastaso
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Jeremy Peterson

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Re: What are facilities doing about the Concorde?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2021, 08:25:18 am »
Point of note, once beyond 12 nm of the US coast, the rules change to international airspace rules. Ify ether, there’s a recent document outlining proposed rule changes to 91.817: https://www.faa.gov/news/media/attachments/SFA_Supersonic_Final_Rule.pdf
Jeremy Peterson (HP)
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Evan Reiter

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Re: What are facilities doing about the Concorde?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2021, 09:12:01 am »
Point of note, once beyond 12 nm of the US coast, the rules change to international airspace rules. Ify ether, there’s a recent document outlining proposed rule changes to 91.817: https://www.faa.gov/news/media/attachments/SFA_Supersonic_Final_Rule.pdf
I looked at that, but it seems only to be talking about the process for applying for exemptions and not so much about the correct procedures to apply for ATC when a pilot requests to exceed Mach 1.0 in conjunction with the exemption. Or perhaps that's coming in a 7110 revision?


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Anthony Santanastaso

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Re: What are facilities doing about the Concorde?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2021, 06:06:06 pm »
Point of note, once beyond 12 nm of the US coast, the rules change to international airspace rules. Ify ether, there%u2019s a recent document outlining proposed rule changes to 91.817: https://www.faa.gov/news/media/attachments/SFA_Supersonic_Final_Rule.pdf
I looked at that, but it seems only to be talking about the process for applying for exemptions and not so much about the correct procedures to apply for ATC when a pilot requests to exceed Mach 1.0 in conjunction with the exemption. Or perhaps that's coming in a 7110 revision?

Evan, maybe we can just agree on a simple, albeit possibly virtual, solution that is a mixture of what information we have gathered from the FAA, Port Authority, USAF, and historical fact. As per my note above, the lateral boundary of a sonic boom is 1 mile per 1,000 feet. Let's say that the general rule of thumb for Concorde leaving the eastern seaboard to Europe and beyond is to initially climb them to FL290. Once approximately 35 miles off shore and away from land, they are issued further climb and are permitted to accelerate to speeds at or above Mach 1.

Check out this graphic which depicts the normal operating procedure of the Concorde.
https://www.heritageconcorde.com/air-traffic-control-of-concorde-

It appears as though they accelerated to Mach 1 only after passing through FL350 and aimed to be less than Mach 1 prior to reaching FL350 in their descent. If FL350 is the magic number, roughly 35,000, then that's about 35 miles according to the USAF's lateral calculation of the sonic boom. This appears to make sense as the Concorde would be free and clear to accelerate without negatively impacting anything on land.
Anthony Santanastaso
Divisional Training Manager
VATUSA
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