Suppose a civilian buys a military jet, for example an T-38. Would he be allowed to use afterburners?

  • $\begingroup$ Though not an expert, I can say yes they are. But from what I can understand the aircraft would burn a lot of fuel; on top of that there is the question on the use of afterburner and sound : since you cannot go past Mach 1 over land in the US and Europe, unless you are in a specific area or over sea, what would it be used for ? I guess people will have more thorough answer than that and links to proper regulation on that subject. $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2017 at 15:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @PierreChevallier -- some aircraft require AB for T/O operations (either under certain load conditions, or all the time); it may also be necessary to provide maximum thrust when such is called for, even if airspeeds are not high. $\endgroup$ Aug 1, 2017 at 0:51

2 Answers 2


No, no restrictions on using an afterburner. There are a few F104 Starfighters on the civil registration that must use the afterburner to take off.

However, most countries forbid supersonic flight by non military operated aircraft in their airspace. The only time Concorde went supersonic was over the ocean.

  • $\begingroup$ Afterburners are pretty noisy by themselves, aren't they? $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    Aug 1, 2017 at 0:32
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Koyovis not all that much more than the same engine at full military power, and they tend to be used only for a short period because of the high fuel consumption and increased wear on the aircraft. Very few aircraft were designed to fly on afterburners for prolonged periods, and as far as I know there are no SR-71s in civilian hands (except maybe one owned by NASA). $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Aug 1, 2017 at 6:05

A friend has a demilitarized warbird. The full propulsion system remains intact. Sometimes, in full view of the FAA, at airshows, he will light the afterburner. I know of no regulation which prohibits augmented thrust from afterburners.

  • $\begingroup$ Clarification, I know of no federal regulation on afterburners. I have heard that some airports have regulations against it, unless required for takeoff. Apparently done for noise abatement. This came from the friend with a warbird. He did not mention the airports. $\endgroup$
    – mongo
    Apr 9, 2019 at 13:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.