Speed limit for civilian aircraft?

This has been bothering me for the last few days. Is there any legislation concerning the performance of civilian aircraft? In the U.S. and abroad.

I’m pretty sure (read: WAG) that the only law is that civilian aircraft may not break the speed of sound. Has something to do with the accompanying BOOM.

250 knots below 10,000 feet, 200 knots below the airspace underlying class-B airspace are the two that come to mind off the top of my head. There have been experiments near Houston I believe for allowing jets to exceed 250 to help out air traffic control. There’s also discussion of how to integrate civilian manned spacecraft into the system. I don’t know if it applies to fast civilian aircraft, but military planes can exceed these limits in the ATC system under some circumstances if it is unsafe for them to fly that slow.

FAR part 91 addresses this.

Short form: No.

Outside range of airports, and above 10,000 ft, the only limit is that of the design.

Yes, there are supersonic airplanes in civilian hands. (there was a supersonic kit a few years ago, the ill-fated BD-10J).

For any aircraft over 12,500 lbs (I think) a pilot has to be checked out and certified to operate that “type” (read: make and model).

Thanks, I was curious because I had been studying the specifications on some of the charter planes we use, and the top speeds of the aircraft seemed to all be subsonic.

(mind you almost all were well below this level, but my mind began to wander and I soon began researching aircraft that we will most likely never use)

Is there a civilian aircraft on the market now(from any of the major manufacturers)tha is capable of supersonic speeds?

Not that I’m aware of (in level flight, without structual damage).

The forces involved in the breaking of the sound barrier (which is legal in the US, as long as the “boom” does not reach ground level - somewhere around 45,000 ft., IIRC) are so great that the airframe requires signifigantly more strength than sub-sonic flight (which is what doomed the SST idea).

The only a/c I know of (don’t know what became of the BD10J prototype - it was a modified model that disintegrated at 300 kt.) are ex-fighters (MiGs, specifically).

IANAAerospace Engineer

That said I think most of the reasons you do not see supersonic civilian aircraft are due to economic considerations. While doubtless some people would go for one it probably isn’t enough of a market to prompt a plane manufacturer to build one. To date the only civilian airliner that is supersonic is the Concord and IIRC even with ticket prices at $7,000/passenger it was a money loser.

A few ‘problems’ occur with supersonic flight. The plane design is considerably different. Wings that work well at supersonic speeds may not work so well at subsonic speeds. Loss of low speed performance and (I would guess) higher landing speeds makes them less than ideal for most civilian uses and perhaps more dangerous to boot. Add to that miserable fuel economy to fly that fast. You see most civilian airliners and speedy private jets cruising around 600 mph. Start pushing up that last 100 mph or so to break the sound barrier and fuel economy will tank.

Add all that up and such a plane is not economically worthwhile for most people…planes are darn expensive as is.

Besides…I though supersonic flight was prohibited over the United States (barring military aircraft). IIRC this was put into effect when people were worried about the Concord zipping to, say, Chicago. Concord only ever flew to east coast cities.