Flying: Hypersonic Hype

Flying: Hypersonic Hype

In case you were busy last June, the Paris Air Show created buzz with new aspirations and ambitions as Hypermach and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) gave their first official presentations about new supersonic jet concepts.

Cruising at Mach 3.1 over long distances and using hybrid gas turbine engine technology, Hypermach’s 20-seat SonicStar will be twice as fast as Concorde and do London to New York in just 2 hours. London to Sydney will take just 3 hours and 30 minutes. Top speed is Mach 3.6. max altitude is 18.9km. CEO Richard Lugg wants to get it done within 10 years, but this may prove to be optimistic if history is an indication of the SonicStar’s likely success.

EADS’ goals seem bigger. With cruise speeds beyond Mach 4, EADS says its Zero Emission Hypersonic Transportation study (ZEHST) will fly 50-100 passengers at an altitude up to 32km and cut travel time between Tokyo and Paris to less than 2 hours and 30 minutes, while having a very limited impact on the environment. Compared to SonicStar, ZEHST is projected to cover New York to London in about an hour. EADS is working to have demonstrators by the end of the decade and to be fully operational – green, fast and quiet – by 2050.

On the most simplistic level this hype is very important. Flying has always been about “what can be” and we look forward to the many ways we will benefit from the technologies that are developed along the way. Plus, we will definitely enjoy seeing the earth’s curvature from those altitudes.


Note: This article is displaying as it appeared in Volume 05 of our PlaneSense: Informational Quarterly newsletter.
Photo courtesy of EADS.com

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