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Why are sonic booms illegal?

I’ve heard that sonic booms by supersonic aircraft were banned back in 1973, but the Concorde continued flying flying after that. Don’t most of today’s modern military planes still break the sound barrier and create sonic booms? If sonic booms are illegal, why are there still airplanes flying much faster than the speed of sound? Military aircraft today still fly at supersonic speed, which is roughly over Mach 1.4 or maybe nearly Mach 2, two times faster than the speed of sound. The Concorde however, was retired back in 2003 for some reasons. But why were sonic booms outlawed back in 1973? If sonic booms were outlawed, why military planes still fly at supersonic speed?

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  • 1 month ago
    Favorite Answer

    Sonic booms are illegal because it creates such a loud bang that it disturbs people on the ground and could contribute to hearing loss or in some cases even shatter windows or cause other damage.

    The concord was able to fly because it ONLY accelerated to super-sonic speeds over uninhabited areas - basically when flying over the ocean. In fact a major factor in the concord not being more popular and eventually being discontinued, was the limits on where it could fly. It couldn't use its supersonic speed over land, so coast to coast trips weren't an option, and it didn't have enough range to fly over the Pacific ocean. So the only routes it could fly and use its speed were the US East coast to Western Europe (such as New York to London).

    Military aircraft do not go super-sonic over populated areas for this same reason. When they need to train or do testing they do it over the ocean or over the areas in remote Nevada and Utah or other locations where there are no people.

    Several years ago I heard 2 sonic booms while at work. I was in a meeting when we heard a boom so loud the building shook. We stopped the meeting and went out into the warehouse to see if something had exploded or there had been some sort of crash. We didn't find any problems and went back to our meeting but a few minutes later it happened again.That evening we found out what happened - President Obama was visiting our city and a local company that does sightseeing flights on float planes hadn't checked the FAA restrictions and didn't see that there was a 25 mile no-fly zone implemented for his arrival on Air Force One. When their regularly scheduled sightseeing flight encroached on the President's no-fly zone the Air Force scrambled fighter jets to the area - and because they take no chances with the safety of the President they went super-sonic to get there as fast as possible.

    Occasionally an aerospace company will "study" the market for super-sonic aircraft but with the current restrictions its never financially viable business case for building one. There has been some research done on ways to limit the intensity of these sonic booms, but nothing has developed to the point where an aircraft can go supersonic without causing disturbance to people below it.

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  • JetDoc
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Civilian aircraft are not allowed to "break the sound barrier" over land, so no sonic booms where they can cause problems for people on the ground. Concorde could only fly supersonic when flying over the ocean.

    BTW...  Your pic is a fake!  Photo-shopped!

    • Charly Dat1 month agoReport

      It is not my picture and it is way beyond impossible to be photoshopped, sonic booms are real and I’ve seen them in real life with my own eyes!!

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  • 2 months ago

    Military aircraft will not break the sound barrier over land except maybe in the Area 51 test site area in the middle of the desert. It makes a lot of noise that scares the hell out of people and it is a waste of fuel.

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  • 2 months ago

    They don't do it over populated areas, moron.

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  • 2 months ago

    The ban applied to supersonic flight over populated land area. Concorde even had its flight path altered so that it would be supersonic only over the ocean.

    As for military jet, not only they would train and fly supersonic only over water and military bases and dedicated areas, but they typically cannot fly at a supersonic speed for a long period of time as doing so consumes fuel at a much greater rate.

    They only go supersonic when really needed, just like you would only run rarely as opposed to walk.

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    • Charly Dat1 month agoReport

      Joseph, I know that, I am not stupid! I’ve seen military mid-air refueling tanker aircraft with my own eyes in real life before. Yes the fighter jets do have to slow and will have to communicate with the tanker crew as well and fly at the same speed and altitude as the tankers to prevent disasters. 

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  • 2 months ago

    People tend to complain very loudly if their windows get broken, or their eardrums.

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  • 2 months ago

    They are prohibited over residential land.

    Concorde flew from London and Paris to New York and only travelled at supersonic speeds over the ocean.

    If a military jet needs to travel at supersonic speeds over residential areas for strategic or national emergency purposes it will do so.

    • Coffee Drinker
      Lv 7
      1 month agoReport

      Yep - see my answer for a story of when a couple fighter jets went supersonic over western Washington after a sightseeing plane accidentally encroached on restricted air space around President Obama.

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