Connecting Europe and Australia in 90 minutes ? Paris and San Francisco in less than an hour ? Unimaginable until today. Since the withdrawal of the Concorde in 2003, commercial aviation has not attempted to exceed the speed of sound.
But that could change in the coming decades.
Traveling to 5 times the speed of sound with Airbus
Airbus filed a patent for the development of an aircraft capable of connecting Paris to New York in just one hour. Named for now “ultra-fast air vehicles and associated method for air transport,” this new generation aircraft project has nothing of commercial plane we know.
Capable of flying at more than 5500km/h or Mach 4.5 (almost 5 times the speed of sound), it is the worthy heir of the Concorde, supersonic aircraft of another time, crossing the Atlantic in just three hours. With its futuristic design, it looks more like a space shuttle. But innovation comes primarily from its engines. It is equipped with two ramjet engines under the wing, two retractable jet engines in the cabin and one “rocket” engine on the tail that can reach an altitude of 35,000 meters.
When space tech meets aviation
Developed by a team of researchers from the German Space Center (DLR) since 2005, the Spaceliner is a revolutionary concept of suborbital hypersonic aircraft designed to transport up to 50 passengers at more than Mach 20. This aircraft, which takes off vertically, is based on a two-stage concept : a lower part for acceleration and a top for passengers equipped with wings. There are 11 engines in total, including 9 for the acceleration part.
In addition to flying at more than 20 times the speed of sound, it is a perfectly eco-friendly concept. These engines being supplied with oxygen and liquid hydrogen, it emits only water vapor.
However, before you can take advantage of these 2.5 g thrust, we will have to wait until 2040 according to the DLR. For your information, prototyping this concept would require an initial investment of 28 to 30 billion euros.