If you’ve ever wanted to go halfway across the world for a few hours and be back home in time for dinner, you might be able to do that soon, thanks to the hypersonic plane being designed by Airbus.
King of the Planes, the Second of its Name
The hypersonic plane being designed by Airbus does not have an official name yet, but many in the aerospace industry have dubbed it the Concorde Mark 2, after the first established hypersonic plane, the Concorde, which was discontinued in 2003.
Similar in design to its predecessor, the aircraft from Airbus will have a gothic delta wing, which will aid in the supersonic speed capabilities of the plane.
Where it improves on the design of the first hypersonic plane, however, is in its takeoff process. The plane would take off like a regular airplane, traveling down a runway and using turbo jet engines. Once in the air, it begins a sharp ascent and heads above the atmosphere with the aid of its rocket boosters. The designers of the new hypersonic plane hope that this near-vertical climb will enable the aircraft to avoid sonic booms, which prevented the Concorde from being deployed in places other than the North Atlantic.
After the ascent above the atmosphere, ramjet engines, which are typically used in missiles, would take the aircraft even higher, to about 18.6 miles, where the hypersonic plane can then cruise at up to Mach 4.5 speed, or 2,970 miles per hour, which is four and a half times the speed of sound.
The First Hypersonic Plane
The predecessor of this new plane, the Concorde, was developed by Aérospatiale and British Aircraft Corporation and was used as a commercial aircraft from 1976 to 2003, when it was retired from service. It had a maximum speed of Mach 2.04 and seated up to 128 passengers. Only 20 of its kind were ever made, and it proved to be a great economic loss for its designers after the aviation industry experienced a decline in the post-9/11 world and after one of the planes crashed in 2000.
Where Can You Go, and How Fast Can You Get There?
The designers of the new plane have estimated that it can get from Tokyo to Paris in just three hours, and from London to New York in just one hour. Such travel is generally unfathomable to most people who travel by plane frequently and have to suffer 7-12 hour flights between those destinations.
While Airbus stated in the patent application, which was recently approved by the U.S. Patent Office, that it envisions the market for the new hypersonic plane to be mainly for business travelers and VIPs, perhaps someday even coach travelers can experience the wonders of traveling across the world in just 3 hours.
If travel was this quick, would alarm clocks be necessary?: