At the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Aviation 2018 conference Boeing showcased a hypersonic airliner concept capable of flying passengers across the Atlantic in just two hours.
Since the retirement of the Concorde in 2003 which could fly at Mach 2, or twice the speed of sound, there have not been any passenger jets capable of travelling faster. Flying at Mach 5, and with a projected cruise altitude of 95,000 ft., the Boeing Hypersonic vehicle would travel at more than 2.5 times the speed and 30,000 ft. higher than original Concorde. According to Boeing, the additional speed would enable same-day return flights even across the Pacific.
From a technological challenge perspective, it is speed that sets the research agenda. To get from Mach 0.8 (current commercial aircraft speed) to Mach 5 is a six-fold increase in speed. As such, a step change will be required to the existing propulsion and material technologies used for commercial aircrafts.
Despite the relative optimism that a day trip to New York could be a realisation in the next 20 years, there is much that needs to be achieved, including improved and light-weighting of airframe structures, improved efficiencies in propulsion systems and a technological change in cooling technology and aero dynamics.
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.”