Boeing unveils hypersonic plane design
Boeing revealed an early concept on June 26, 2018, for its first hypersonic passenger plane at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) conference in Atlanta, United States. The computer rendered picture gives a glimpse of what planes could look like in a few decades.
The hypersonic plane, which could have commercial and military applications, would fly in theory as fast as Mach 5, giving it the ability to cross the Atlantic in about two hours, against the current duration of seven (and three and a half hours for late Concorde).
“We’re excited about the potential of hypersonic technology to connect the world faster than ever before,” said Kevin Bowcutt, senior technical fellow and chief scientist of hypersonics. But the market has yet to develop, as price per seat in such an aircraft would likely be out of reach for common customers. Manufacturers need to work on reducing operating costs as much as possible, to turn it into a profitable venture.
But some technical challenges come along with this. For example, the noise generated during takeoff, because of sonic boom, was a huge problem for Concorde, and was one of the reasons for its retirement. Lockheed and NASA are currently working on a quieter supersonic jet.
The plane makers also need to develop materials lighter than the one currently in use, and engines capable of powering such an aircraft. In April 2018, Boeing and Rolls Royce invested in Reaction Engines, a UK-based aerospace technology company developing the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE), a hybrid engine blending jet and rocket technology that is capable of Mach 5 in air-breathing mode and Mach 25 in rocket mode for space flight.
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