Imagine flying from Sydney to Los Angeles in less than three hours. That’s the promise of an “ultra-rapid air vehicle” that aircraft manufacturer Airbus has just patented.
The US Patent and Trademark Office approved the patent last month, Time magazine reports. The patent describes a hypersonic jet more than twice as fast as the supersonic Concorde.
Old airline hands who remember the days of the Beatles – and a couple of decades thereafter – may recall the Concorde flying the Atlantic.
While commercial jets took eight hours to fly from New York to Paris or London, the Concorde’s average supersonic flight time on the transatlantic routes was just under 3.5 hours. Concorde, developed partly by a company now owned by Airbus, had an average cruising speed of Mach 2.02, about 1334 mph (2140 km/h) – or more than twice the speed of sound and well over twice the speed of today’s passenger jet aircraft.
The new Airbus hypersonic jet can beat the Concorde record by using new turbojets and a hydrogen power system, the patent states.
Some analysts say the “ultra-rapid air vehicle and related method of aerial locomotion” patented by Airbus’s Marco Prampolini and Yohann Coraboeuf could reach speeds as high as Mach 4.5 – or four and half times the speed of sound. That’s about 5512 km/h. It could fly between London and New York in an hour.
Don’t hold your breath however.
“It’s unlikely that the hypersonic jet will become a reality any time soon,” Time notes.
Another decade or two may slip by, it seems, before passenger jets become as fast as they were in the 1970s.
Written by Peter Needham