A patent awarded to Airbus in July showed designs of an aircraft that climbs vertically into the air before breaking the sound barrier as it travels horizontally across the sky. Airbus envisions its hypersonic plane – dubbed the Concorde 2 – to have a top speed of Mach 4.5, or three times faster than the legendary supersonic passenger jet. It will cut travel time from New York to London to just one hour, from the four hours it took the original Concorde which made its final flight in 2003. Standard airliners usually take eight hours travel time between the two cities. The proposed aircraft is described as “an air vehicle including a fuselage, a gothic delta wing distributed on either side of the fuselage, and a system of motors able to propel the air vehicle.” There would be 3 types of engines involved, powered by different forms of hydrogen, that work together to propel the vehicle at speeds of up to 3,425 mph. It would climb vertically at take-off assisted by two turbo jets that would retract into the fuselage just before it reaches the speed of sound. A rocket motor would take it to a cruising altitude of 100,000 feet, then wing-mounted ramjets would then take control to push the aircraft to its final speed. Airbus says the plane’s aerodynamic design will limit its sonic boom, making it much quieter the Concorde. However, because of design considerations the hypersonic craft is envisaged to carry only 20 passengers, principally VIP and business travelers who need transcontinental trips within a day.
Airbus says the hypersonic jet could also be used for military applications, working to transport soldiers at rapid speeds. Research into the use of hypersonic transport has been in the works. In July, the US Air Force revealed they hope to have a hypersonic plane capable of crossing countries in minutes and that several tests of hypersonic projectiles have already been undertaken. Air Force Chief Scientist Mica Endsley said that the Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) plan to have a new and improved hypersonic air vehicle by 2023.