London to New York in 90 minutes: In decade and a half, threat from hypersonic jets to become real

Hermeus caused more of turbulence when it said it obtained seed capital and investments from the private sector to make a plane with a cruising speed of over 5000 kph

Bikram Vohra May 29, 2019 07:20:57 IST
London to New York in 90 minutes: In decade and a half, threat from hypersonic jets to become real
  • At present, the 7-hour flight by subsonic wide-bodied aircraft was being channelled largely by Boom

  • Boom contends that its 55 seater will be 30 times more efficient and 30 times quieter than the Concorde

  • So far the only supersonic planes (SSTs) to take to the air are the Concorde and the Russian made Tu-144

Aircraft manufacturers lost interest very swiftly in the concept of supersonic passenger planes around the turn of the century. The crash of Air France 4590 Concorde in July 2000, killing a hundred and thirteen people including four on the ground, shifted the focus onto large and distance options rather than speed and time. Also, with business class becoming the most lucrative option and comfort and communications creating the semblance of an office in the sky with connectivity the extra few hours begun not to matter. But now the race is on again with supersonic designs vying with hypersonic the difference being the first is anything after 1.2 Mach to 2.5 Mach while the latter is plus 5 Mach.

Announcing its entry into the fray is the Atlanta based startup Hermeus Corporation planning to manufacture a Mach 5 passenger plane that would do the London-New York run in 90 minutes.

Early this week Hermeus caused more of turbulence in this rarefied market segment when it submitted it had obtained seed capital and investments from the private sector to make a plane with a range of 4600 miles and a cruising speed of over 5000 kph. It would get you across the Atlantic cosseted in state of the art luxury for $3,000.

London to New York in 90 minutes In decade and a half threat from hypersonic jets to become real

Representational image. Reuters.

At present, the 7-hour flight by subsonic wide-bodied aircraft was being channelled largely by the Japan Airlines and Virgin combine under the umbrella of Boom to create a supersonic plane by the mid-2020s that would cut the time to 3 hours 15 minutes.

It contends that its 55 seater will be 30 times more efficient and 30 times quieter than the Concorde. A massive step forward came last year when General Electric announced that it had finalised the design for just such an SST programme thereby fast-tracking the return of speed travel.

So far the only supersonic planes (SSTs) to take to the air are the Concorde and the Russian made Tu-144. But fifteen years after the comeback is on the cards.

It is not just Boom who is in the running. Spike Aerospace is well on the way with its S512 18 seater that will replace bizjets by screaming across the skies at 1.6 Mach as compared to the 09 Mach of the fastest jets today. Spike projects 800 plus supersonics in the air by 2035. In direct competition is the Aerion Supersonic as2, a 12-seater business jet that has the capability of flying direct from New York to Sao Paulo and London to Beijing. It hopes to be in the air as early as 2023 with a test flight next year. Although Lockheed Martin is collaborating in this venture it is also working with Nasa on creating a quieter supersonic commercial plane called the X59 QueSST and plans to reconfigure the shape of the fixed-wing aircraft.

So a decade and a half later the threat from these speedsters is becoming real again.

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