The team behind the Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) has announced that it will be driven for the first time in the UK this October, 20 years after the current land speed record was set.
Wing Commander Andy Green steered Thrust SSC to victory on October 15 1997 and he will be at the wheel of Bloodhound SSC as it is put through its first real paces.
Runway trials will mark the culmination of a month of tests to prove the car’s steering, brakes, suspension, data systems and so on, as well as the EJ200 jet engine, sourced from a Eurofighter Typhoon. The first main test will see the vehicle driven along a 2.7-kilometre runway at speeds of up to 322km/h.
Before it moves under its own power, it will first undergo several days of static “tie-down” tests. The jet engine will be run up, with the car chained to the ground, so that the performance of the car’s bespoke air intake, fuel and electrical systems can be checked. All being well, dynamic testing will follow.
Of primary interest is the low-speed capability of the jet engine intake, positioned above the cockpit. Designed to work best at speeds over 1 287km/h, the project’s engineers need to understand how it performs at very low speeds.
Knowing how soon full power can be applied minimises this risk while having real world acceleration data will enable Ron Ayers, chief aerodynamicist, to plan the sequence of runs in SA that, it is hoped, will result in a new record.
The trials will also be Green’s first opportunity to drive the car and experience the steering feel, throttle and brake action, noise and vibration — things that can’t be simulated.
It takes a team to run Bloodhound SSC and this will be the first opportunity to train the support crew, as well as develop the car’s operating procedures, prove and refine the safety protocols, and practice radio communications, before heading to SA in late 2018.
During tests the car will be powered by the jet engine alone and use wheels shod with pneumatic tyres, 84cm in diameter, from an English Electric Lightning fighter, specially reconditioned by Dunlop. As the runway wheels and suspension are slightly thicker than the solid aluminium wheels that will be used in the South African desert, some sections of carbon fibre bodywork will not be fitted.
“The runway trials at Cornwall Airport Newquay will be the biggest milestone in the history of the project so far.
“They will provide important data on the car’s performance and give us a chance to rehearse the procedures we’ll use when we go record breaking,” says Richard Noble, project director. – Mark Smyth