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Agencies sign off on supersonic flight corridor in southern Kansas

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Posted at 3:46 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 16:46:57-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new corridor established in southern Kansas will allow testing of non-military aircraft at supersonic speeds.

Gov. Laura Kelly announced the Kansas Supersonic Transportation Corridor Thursday. The corridor runs for nearly 800 miles along a stretch from near Pittsburg, Kansas, in the east and past Garden City and Liberal in the west. Wichita, which bills itself as the air capital of the world, lies at the heart of the corridor.

Planes would be allowed to travel at speeds up to Mach 3 in the corridor, but would be required to fly at 39,000 feet high.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R - Kansas) helped to secure the corridor, which required coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Air Route Traffic Control Center, and the National Institute of Aviation Research at Wichita State University.

Moran, citing industry forecasts predicting as many as 300 supersonic aircraft in the next 10 years and billions in development, believes the SSTC will allow Kansas to play a role in the future of supersonic transportation.

Wichita State’s NIAR will collect noise and aircraft data from flights operating in the corridor.

“To be able to deliver this new opportunity for our country is yet another example of Kansas cementing its reputation as a national leader in the aviation industry,” Kelly said Thursday in a release. This high-altitude flight corridor gives Kansas a strategic advantage in attracting companies involved in the development of supersonic aircraft, and will play a significant role in our state’s ability to encourage economic development as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”