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Imagine flying from Los Angeles to Tokyo in three hours or New York to London in two. Right now, those flights take about 11 hours and 7 hours, respectively. As far-fetched as it may sound, Boeing wants to make that possible.
Boeing unveiled its first passenger-carrying hypersonic vehicle concept at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) conference in Atlanta this week. This announcement comes 15 years after the supersonic Concorde completed its last flight. The plane would be able to reach hypersonic Mach 5 speeds (five times the speed of sound — about 3,800 miles per hour), seriously reducing long flight times. While there are other high-speed passenger aircraft in development, Boeing’s would be the fastest — Aerion’s AS2, the supersonic jet that is the farthest along in development, is expected to reach only Mach 1.5 (about 1,200 miles per hour).
“We’re excited about the potential of hypersonic technology to connect the world faster than ever before,” said Kevin Bowcutt, Boeing’s senior technical fellow and chief scientist of hypersonics, in a company statement. “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.”
Although Boeing doesn’t have a date yet for when this hypersonic jet may take flight, Bowcutt believes it will be in 20 to 30 years — assuming Boeing continues investing in this project. After all, Boeing would need to spend billions of dollars to develop this and it’s uncertain if there’s enough demand. But with airlines launching more ultra-long haul flights and ambitious demands like those of Qantas’ “Project Sunrise” (a plan to launch non-stop flights from Sydney to London and New York), it’s certainly possible that there is.
The plane would be able to accommodate more passengers than a conventional business jet, but less than Boeing’s popular 737 narrow-body. The concept will be on display at the Farnborough Air Show in July.
Featured image courtesy of Boeing.
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