Incredible

New York – London hypersonic flight soon to become feasible?

London

They are the questions that have fluttered vaguely on the lips of anyone involved in the air industry ever since Concorde touched down at the end of its final flight on November 26 2003: Where will the next supersonic aircraft come from, and when will it take off for the first time?

Two answers have emerged in the last 24 hours – although, as it stands, the second response is no more than concrete than “at some point in the future, hopefully, with the raising and investment of a lot of money”, while the first requires a little clarification.

This is the news that Boeing has unveiled a rendering of its vision of the future. But not a not a supersonic jet such as Concorde, which might be considered a relic in these forward-thinking times of 2018.

This is a theoretical “hypersonic” plane, capable of flying at Mach 5 or above (a speed of around 3,900 miles per hour) – a considerable upgrade on Concorde, which had a maximum capability of Mach 2.04 (nudging 1,354 miles per hour at its fullest throttle).

The Chicago-based aviation giant used the platform of the prestigious annual American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) conference in Atlanta, Georgia, to unveil an image of what it has pithily described as the “first passenger-carrying hypersonic vehicle concept”.

Should such an aircraft be designed to Mach 5 specifications, it would be able to zoom between London and New York in just an hour (rather than the current standard seven).

Of course, such speed records are a long way into the future. Boeing itself admits that any such aircraft could only be airborne in “20 or 30 years”, depending on the progress of the project – but also insists that such a technological leap is entirely feasible.

“We are excited about the potential of hypersonic technology to connect the world faster than ever before,” says Kevin Bowcutt, Boeing’s chief scientist of hypersonics.

“Boeing is building upon a foundation of six decades of work designing, developing and flying experimental hypersonic vehicles, which makes us the right company to lead the effort in bringing this technology to market in the future.”

The company says that the design could have military as well as commercial applications – and, having raised the curtain on the design in the American south-east, is preparing to showcase the design on British soil, at the Farnborough Air Show, in Hampshire, next month (July 16-22).

Of course, this is not the first time that “a new Concorde” has been touted by an ambitious player in the aviation jamboree. Only last November, Colorado-based start-up Boom Technology pulled the dustsheets off a model of a “Boom Supersonic” plane that, it was suggested, could be taking off for test flights by the end of this year.




Did you like this story? Don't forget to share with your friends!

Share on Facebook

For more stories, like us on Facebook

To Top