The X-59 supersonic project: How Envirosuite won the contract for a major NASA mission to transform the future of air travel
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As well as a long-term revenue growth, CEO Jason Cooper said the deal will allow EVS to further develop its market-leading data IP in aviation acoustics.
ASX company Envirosuite (ASX:EVS) has confirmed its standing as a leading global player in environmental intelligence, with the announcement this morning of a key long-term project win with NASA.
The agreement is in connection with the development of the X-59 –a supersonic aircraft equipped with technology to reduce the sound of a sonic boom to that of a “gentle thump”.
Envirosuite has been engaged as part of NASA’s Community Response Testing, where its cloud-based data analysis software will be deployed to collect and analyse noise and acoustics patterns from X-59 test flights.
Speaking with Stockhead, Envirosuite CEO Jason Cooper said the project win consolidates the company’s position as the “global market leader” in solutions to improve aviation noise impacts.
The development of the X-59 is a long-term NASA project initiative. The first phase centred around the preparation of systems and processes for large-scale testing is scheduled to run until the end of 2023.
Putting the technology in context, Cooper used the example of Concord flights between the US and the UK/France.
While the Concord marked a step forward in high-speed air travel, it wasn’t successful outside of those core routes because it was “only approved to fly over non-inhabitable areas – i.e., the Atlantic Ocean”, Cooper explained.
The central reason for that is because such flights create sonic booms when the sound barrier is broken, resulting in excessive noise and disruption for populations in close proximity.
“What NASA wants to do is transform supersonic travel for the domestic environment,” Cooper said.
If successful, cross-country US flight routes will be reduced from around 6 hours to less than 3 hours.
Once the plane is designed and built, test flights will take place over selected US communities.
The next stage is to gather data on human responses to low sonic-boom flights, and that’s where we step in,” Cooper said.
To win the contract, Envirosuite joined forces with HMMH, a global consulting firm which specialises in environment and transportation planning.
The consortium emerged successful in a competitive tender process that NASA put out to market.
“HMMH only wanted to partner with us so we formed that consortium from the outset,” Cooper said.
We were competing against multi-billion dollar defence contractors who were well established in the NASA framework, but we knew that with our joint capabilities there were some strong advantages.”
Where Envirosuite’s technology will add value is its capacity to provide a “data backbone” for the collection and analysis of noise frequency data from the X-59 test flights.
“Our expertise comes in two key parts. Firstly, with the provision of our core software — we’re recognised globally as the number one player for acoustic monitoring in the commercial aviation industry,” Cooper said.
“The second aspect is our broad reach – we already operate at hundreds of sites globally. So we’ve got strong environmental experience to work with because we already have that broad understanding and market knowledge.”
Highlighting the extensive nature of the project is the fact that NASA is also working with commercial US airlines to develop the X-59 over the next decade.
The end goal is to build technology that enables “the future of air travel”, Cooper said.
So, while Envirosuite will generate revenues from the start of the project, the long-term commercial opportunity is “substantially higher than that”, he added.
“One of the central reasons we’re involved with this is that it puts us at the forefront of working out how communities are impacted by this new technology,” Cooper said.
“We think airports globally will want supersonic air travel for domestic and international flights. So, in our view this (contract win) cements our product leadership for that next wave.”
To execute, Envirosuite will leverage its existing global footprint, with teams on the ground coordinating between Australia, the US and the UK.
“No one else will have access to this kind of research, data and networking. And we’ve secured this for the next nine years so it’s quite a proud moment to be leading an Australian company involved with this project,” Cooper said.
This article was developed in collaboration with Envirosuite, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.