Bloodhound SuperSonic Car to make first public run


The world’s most advanced straight-line racing car, Bloodhound SSC, will be driven for the first time this October at Cornwall Airport Newquay, 20 years after the current record of 763.035 mph was set. Wing Commander Andy Green steered Thrust SSC to victory on 15 October 1997 and will be at the wheel of Bloodhound SSC as it is put through its paces this autumn.

Runway trials will mark the culmination of a month of tests to prove the capabilities of the car’s steering, brakes, suspension, data systems and so on, as well as the EJ200 jet engine, sourced from a Eurofighter Typhoon. Thousands of visitors are expected to come and see history being made as Bloodhound SSC is driven at speeds of up to 200 mph on the 1.7 mile-long (2.7 km) runway.

Before it moves under its own power, Bloodhound SSC 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 then 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 800 mph, the project’s engineers first need to understand how it performs at very low speeds.

Knowing how soon full power can be applied minimises risk, while having ‘real world’ acceleration data will enable Ron Ayers, Chief Aerodynamicist, to plan the sequence of runs in South Africa that, it is hoped, will result in a new record. The Newquay trials, which will be held over the period 26-30 October 2017, will also be Andy Green’s first opportunity to drive the car and experience the feel of the steering, throttle and brake action, noise and vibration – things that cannot 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 operating procedures of the car, prove and refine the safety protocols and practise radio communications, before heading overseas in late 2018.

During these tests, the car will be powered by the jet engine alone and use wheels shod with pneumatic tyres, 84 cm 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 desert, some sections of carbon fibre bodywork will not be fitted.

Richard Noble, Project Director, said: “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 performance of the car and give us a first opportunity to rehearse the procedures we will use when we go record breaking.

“Just as importantly, it is a way of saying ‘thank you’ to the schools, students, families and companies, big and small, who support the project. We are proud to be waving a flag for British skills and innovation on a world stage but, most of all, this is about inspiring young people. Last year alone we directly engaged with over 100,000 students in the UK and we have already seen more students take up engineering as result of the Bloodhound Project. With the car running, we can showcase science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the most exciting way possible. Bloodhound is go!”

Gavin Poole, Chairman of the Aerohub Enterprise Zone Board and a board member of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The Bloodhound team has already been using Aerohub to test components, so we can’t wait to welcome the complete car. It will be very exciting to see the world-leading engineering, aerodynamics, computing and jet engine moving at speed. Bloodhound is an inspirational project that is making the most of Cornwall’s excellent test-bed facilities. We’re really looking forward to welcoming the Bloodhound team.”