- The aerospace community has an increasing interest in developing super sonic transport class vehicles for civil aviation. One of the concerns in such a project is to minimize the sonic boom produced by the aircraft as demonstrated by its ground signature. One approach being considered is to attach a spike/keel on the front of the aircraft to attenuate the magnitude of an aircraft's ground signature. This paper describes an effort to develop an automatic method for designing the spike/keel area distribution that satisfies constraints on the ground signature of a specified aircraft. In this work a genetic algorithm is used to perform the design optimization. A modified version of Whitham's theory is used to generate the near field pressure signature. The ground signature is computed with the NFBOOM atmospheric propagation code. Results indicate that genetic algorithms are effective tools for solving the design problem presented. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003.