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Hot off the press, Airbus have been granted US approval for a new patented supersonic jet, or rather an "ultra-rapid air vehicle".
It’s a jet that could potentially fly from London to NYC in less than one hour. Or Tokyo to Los Angeles in approximately 3.5 hours, rather than twelve.
But don’t start smashing your piggy bank just yet, the project alone is a long way from getting off the ground, never mind the runway.
But hey, once upon a time the humble car looked like an unfathomable dream.
Let’s take a closer look at the super-craft already deemed Concorde’s slicker, speedier and sexier offspring:
Great heights & breaking barriers
To get some feeling for the sheer capacity of Airbus’ most recent proposal, we need to compare it to papa Concorde. A jet which flew at 60,000 feet above the ground (the average aircraft cruises at 35,000) at speeds of over 2090km/h, compared to the 920km/h of a Boeing 747.
Concorde’s deluxe Rolls-Royce engines broke the sound barrier and passengers could get from London to New York in little more than three hours. Effectively, you could land in NYC before you’d even taken off from England. Impressive? Well yes, but with this new ‘air vehicle’, you could be in the USA a mere hour after departing the UK; you’ll pretty much be going back to the future.
Bigger & better
Here’s the thing, Concorde JNR will travel at four times the speed of sound (that’s twice faster than dad) at a mind-blowing 4000km/h. To reduce the colossal sound pollution caused by a sonic boom, it will be required to cruise at 100,000 feet. The world will look like little more than a distant curve – why? Because at that height you’ll be flirting with the edges of space.
The technical bit
Now for the techy bit. The craft is going to be small and streamlined, much more so than Concorde. It’ll carry just 20 passengers – Concorde could pack in between 100 and 120. To get off the ground, it’ll use three different engines; a rocket motor powered by hydrogen and oxygen, ramjets and a conventional airplane jet (how pedestrian!) In other words, it’s rocket-based technology. And that’s about as detailed as it gets at this point.
But will it happen?
Unsurprisingly, rather than a passenger jet, the new proposal has sparked interest from the military but as yet we can neither confirm nor deny that this is a project that will ever take form.
Cynics don't believe Concorde’s flashier heir will ever be built… but as the saying goes, ‘they laughed at Galileo’.