WB-57 Home Page
WB-57 Header Graphic

Aircraft Performance

The WB-57 is a mid-wing, long-range aircraft capable of operation for extended periods of time from sea level to altitudes in excess of 60,000 feet. Two crewmembers are positioned at separate tandem stations in the cockpit. The pilot station contains all the essential equipment for flying the aircraft. The sensor operator station contains both navigational equipment and controls for the operation of the payloads and payload support systems located throughout the aircraft. The WB-57 can remain aloft for approximately 6.5 hours, flying both day and night, so long as separation from hazardous weather can be maintained. With a range of 2,500 miles, the aircraft can be deployed to any continent. Please contact the WB-57 Program Office with any further inquiries.


Operating Altitude:
Maximum Flight Duration:
Range:
Maximum Gross Weight:
Maximum Payload Weight:
Wing Surface Area:
Engine Thrust:

True Air Speed at 60,000+ feet:
Max. Indicated Air Speed at 0 to 35,000 feet:
Minimum Runway Dimensions:
Maximum Crosswind Component:
Air to Ground Communications:
Payload Power Options:
 

Sea level to above 60,000 feet
Approximately 6.5 hours
Approximately 2,500 miles
72,000 lbs
9,700 lbs (including empty weight of pallet, spear pods, & superpods)
2,000 square feet
15,500 pounds per TF-33 engine
~410 knots (Max Mach .78)
190 knots
7000 feet x 150 feet (sea level)
15 knots
UHF, VHF, HF, and SAT phone
115V 400Hz 3-Phase, 115V 60Hz 1- Phase and 28VDC

 
Gradient border graphic  
 

Altitude Limitations

Flight rules dictate that the WB-57 may fly with a minimum altitude of 100 feet above ground level. This requires permission from Aircraft Operations management, and is considered on a case-by-case basis.

There are several factors that dictate the maximum altitude of the aircraft; however, the two most prominent variables are the gross weight and the overall drag. The aircraft is capable of higher altitudes later in flight due to fuel burn, while drag is increased by adding wing pods, instrument inlets, and any other items that protrude outside the aircraft. See the calculator below for climb and altitude approximations.

View the WB-57 Flight Profile Calculator

Air Traffic Control (ATC) Limitations

The WB-57 is confined to all the rules of ATC, just as any other military or commercial aircraft would be. Therefore, it is important to consider any ATC jurisdiction when planning a flight. In general, it is usually easy to get clearances above 45,000 feet. It can be considerably harder to get cleared between 35,000 - 45,000 feet, especially around metropolitan areas. Below 35,000 feet it can be quite difficult to get a clearance unless the flight is in a low traffic area. This is not to say the aircraft can't pass through these high-traffic areas; however, ATC, may not allow the aircraft to maneuver as desired for experimental purposes.

Low Visibility Limitations

For flight operations at night or in cloudy conditions, the pilot will be more conservative with fuel estimations, which may decrease the flight time slightly. The aircraft is equipped with weather radar, which will aid in deconflicting with thunderstorms during both day and night operations; however, it should be noted that certain payloads in the nose have had to remove radar for logistical reasons. In these instances, another deconfliction method has been employed by the use of a stormscope and/or ground radar stations.

 

WB-57 Basic Dimensions

WB-57 Dimensions - Length 68.25ft, Height 20.5ft and Width 122.5 ft
No copyright is asserted for any photos on this page. If a recognizable person appears in the photo, use for commercial purposes may infringe a right of privacy or publicity. It may not be used to state or imply the endorsement by NASA or by any NASA employee of a commercial product, process or service, or used in any other manner that might mislead. Accordingly, it is requested that if this photograph is used in advertising and other commercial promotions, layout and copy be submitted to NASA prior to release.
 

Bottom border graphic