Descents by Supersonic Aircraft due to Solar Cosmic Radiation

Every possibility should be considered in aviation and air traffic management. Today, air travel is the safest mode of transportation because rules and regulations are developed considering all possible scenarios. Let’s take a look at an issue that is not very common in this article, but can be extremely risky when it occurs. Descents by supersonic aircraft due to solar cosmic radiation.

Concorde Specifications - solar cosmic radiation
Concorde Specifications

Supersonic aircraft rarely may experience cosmic solar radiation above 49000′ feet. In this case, these planes may have to descend to lower levels. At this point, ICAO Doc 4444 – 15.5.5 has given the following explanation.

ATC units should be prepared for the possibility that supersonic aircraft operating at levels above 49000’ Feet may, on rare occasions, experience a rise in solar cosmic radiation which requires them to descent to lower levels, possibly down to or below the levels used by subsonic aircraft. When such a situation is known or suspected, ATC units should take all possible action to safeguard all aircraft concerned, including any subsonic aircraft affected by the descent.

solar cosmic radiation

Further reading:
– UK Department for Transport 2003 “Protection of air crew from cosmic radiation :guidance material”
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/solar-cosmic-rays
https://www.nasa.gov/analogs/nsrl/why-space-radiation-matters

Source: ICAO, Skybrary

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