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New airliners could do SYD/LHR in under three hours

October 24, 2013 Aviation, Headline News 2 Comments Email Email

egtmedia59If you’ve ever flown faster than the speed of sound in a commercial passenger aircraft, you have almost certainly flown on the Concorde.

That option ended when Concorde retired a decade ago, but now Virgin Galactic is working on a far faster aircraft which could whisk passengers from Sydney to London in two and a half hours, not much longer than flying non-stop between Melbourne and Brisbane.

Virgin Galactic says the well-publicised space tourism aircraft it is developing, named SS2, could be modified and turned into a super jet which would travel beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and enter orbit, using Earth’s gravity to reach hypersonic speed before zooming down to re-entry and landing. SS2 in space

Skimming above the planet at about 4200mph (6760km/h) it could cover the 16,900 kilometres between London and Sydney in two and a half hours.

Speaking at an event in London at the weekend, Virgin Galactic commercial director Stephen Attenborough told Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper that SS2 could also serve as an orbital hotel, perhaps for tourists travelling to the Moon and back.

Force India co-owner Michiel Mol and Dutch airline KLM have also teamed up to produce a similar jet which could begin flying next year, the paper reports.

Finally, if you’ve travelled supersonically on a commercial passenger flight, it does not necessarily mean you’ve flown Concorde. You just might be one of the very few people to have flown on the Russian Tu-144, a Concorde lookalike nicknamed the ‘Concordski’ in the West.

A Tu-144 crashed spectacularly in 1973 at the Paris Air Show, delaying its further development. But the passenger fleet did actually make 55 scheduled flights before being permanently grounded.

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Great read Peter. Readers might recall that there was some suggestion that a mysterious aircraft that interfered with the Tu-144’s flight path in 1973 was done deliberately to embarrass the Soviets and ensure Concord monopolised the supersonic jet market. Believe it or not.

  2. John says:

    Although it sounds almost like science fiction, what a wonderful advancement this would be. Sydney for lunch; London for dinner. Amazing thought.

    Great read!

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