See 7 supersonic passenger-jet concepts that will connect cities in as little as one hour and fly up to 9 times faster than the speed of sound

See 7 supersonic passenger-jet concepts that will connect cities in as little as one hour and fly up to 9 times faster than the speed of sound


  • The Concorde was a supersonic commercial airliner, flying passengers at 1,350 miles per hour.

  • High costs, safety concerns, and loud sonic booms forced the plane to retire in 2003.

  • Several companies are trying to reintroduce supersonic air travel with new ultra-high-speed jet concepts.

The age of supersonic commercial air travel started in 1973 with the first transatlantic crossing of the famous Concorde aircraft.

Air France Concordeolrat/Shutterstock

The Concorde made its first supersonic passenger flight 40 years ago — this is what it was like

Jointly developed by Aérospatiale — a predecessor of Airbus Industries — and the British Aircraft Corporation, the high-speed jet could fly up to 1,350 miles per hour, or twice the speed of sound.

Concord in production.

Associated Press

Source: Insider

The first passenger flight occurred on January 21, 1976, when British Airways flew the Concorde from London to Bahrain in just four hours — two and half hours faster than subsonic jets.

First BA Concorde flight.

Associated Press

Source: Insider

Air France started Concorde operations the same day, flying from Paris to Rio de Janeiro via Dakar, Senegal.

First Air France Concorde flight.

Air France

Source: Air France

The Concorde’s early success pushed British Airways and Air France, the only two operators of the jet — with seven each — to add more routes, like Paris to New York and London to Washington, DC.

A BA and AF Concorde pass each other at JFK.

A British Airways and an Air France Concorde pass each other at JFK.Associated Press

Source: Britannia

However, over time, the jet proved to be too expensive and too noisy to maintain. A deadly crash in 2000 further accelerated its retirement, which came in 2003 after 27 years of commercial service.

Air France's Concorde flight 4590 takes off with fire trailing from its engine on the left wing from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris in this July 25, 2000 photo.

Air France’s Concorde flight 4590 takes off from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris with fire trailing from its engine on the left wing on July 25, 2000. The plane crashed, killing 113 people.Toshihiko Sato/AP

Why we still don’t have another Concorde

Since the Concorde’s demise, the industry has not seen another supersonic jet because manufacturers are still trying to solve the challenges the iconic plane faced, like efficiency, cost, and noise.

BA Concorde.

Reuters

Source: Insider

However, companies worldwide have jets in development, and the Federal Aviation Administration has expressed its support for the reintroduction of supersonic travel in the US “as long as safety parameters are followed.”

Concord.

Robert Evans/Getty Images

Source: Federal Aviation Administration

Texas-based startup Venus Aerospace is the most recent manufacturer to unveil a new supersonic jet — except the company hopes to go hypersonic, at Mach 9, meaning the plane will fly nine times faster than the speed of sound.

Venus Aerospace Stargazer.

Venus Aerospace

Source: Venus Aerospace

According to Venus Aerospace, its Stargazer jet will connect any two cities on Earth in an hour or less by flying along the edge of space.

Venus Aerospace Stargazer.

Venus Aerospace

Source: Venus Aerospace

The jet, dubbed a “spaceplane,” will have a capacity of just 12 passengers and be powered by zero-emission rocket engines.

Venus Aerospace Stargazer.

Venus Aerospace

Source: Venus Aerospace

Other companies are also hoping to enter the hypersonic market. China’s Space Transportation, also known as Beijing Lingkong Tianxing, is developing a 12-passenger jet that can fly 4,350 miles per hour, connecting New York and Beijing in one hour.

Space Transportation's (Lingkong Tianxing) supersonic jet.

Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone

Source: Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, CNN

The ultra-high-speed jet concept, which is planned to begin flight testing in 2023, is not the company’s first product. Lingkong Tianxing has also been developing reusable rockets, which are the foundation of its future commercial spaceplane.

Space Transportation ((Lingkong Tianxing) spaceplane.

Step-by-step development of the spaceplane.Space Transportation ((Lingkong Tianxing)

Source: Space Transportation (Lingkong Tianxing)

NASA and Lockheed Martin have partnered to develop the X-59 SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft. While not a passenger concept, the supersonic jet will help minimize sonic booms over land.

X-59 SuperSonic Technology (QueSST).

Lockheed Martin

Source: Lockheed Martin, NASA

This will allow commercial supersonic planes to travel faster than the speed of sound over populated areas, which the Concorde was not permitted to do.

X-59 SuperSonic Technology (QueSST)

The X-59 SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) test aircraft after a flight.Lauren Hughes/NASA

Source: Lockheed Martin, NASA

Lockheed Martin is planning to build on top of its testbed by creating a 40-seater ultra-fast commercial aircraft, which it calls Quiet Supersonic Technology Airliner (QSTA). The plane is planned to fly at Mach 1.8, or about 1,380 miles per hour.

Lockheed Martin X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology X-plane.

Lockheed Martin

Source: Lockheed Martin, CNN

Meanwhile, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the country’s national space agency, is developing an unnamed supersonic jet that will carry 50 passengers and have a sonic boom 50% smaller than the Concorde’s.

Concept image of the JAXA jet.

JAXA

Source: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

The agency is developing the aircraft in partnership with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and Subaru. JAXA is also partnered with NASA on the X-59 QueSST project that will help the agency reduce its own jet’s sonic boom.

Experimental airplane testing low sonic boom design concept.

Experimental airplane testing low sonic boom design concept.JAXA

Source: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

US-based Exosonic is also developing a quiet, low-boom supersonic passenger plane. The 70-seater jet is planned to fly at Mach 1.8, with tickets costing the same as a regular business-class fare.

Exosonic supersonic jet.

Exosonic

Source: Aerotime

In 2020, Exosonic was awarded a grant from the US Air Force to build a supersonic plane that could serve as the future Air Force One.

Exosonic Air Force One concept.

The above image does not represent Exosonic’s current configuration due to proprietary concerns.Exosonic

Source: Exosonic

The Air Force’s Life Cycle Management Center said the deal will push the development of a “low-boom supersonic executive transport aircraft that will allow key decision makers and teams to travel around the world in half the time it takes now.”

Exosonic supersonic jet.

Exosonic

Source: FlightGlobal

South African billionaire Priven Reddy’s company, EON Aerospace, is also trying to get into the supersonic market with EON nxt-01, an environmentally friendly ultra-fast jet.

EON nxt-01.

EON Aerospace

Source: EON Aerospace

The plane would fly at Mach 1.9 and have up to 88 seats, with the goal to run on sustainable aviation fuel and operate with net-zero carbon emissions. EON hopes to get the jet into service by 2029.

EON nxt-01.

EON Aerospace

Source: EON Aerospace

Colorado-based Boom Supersonic, which is developing a Concorde-like plane known as Overture, is the only startup that reports having orders on the books.

Boom Supersonic.

Boom’s supersonic prototype conducting flight tests.Boom Supersonic

Boom Supersonic’s ultra-fast planes that United Airlines is set to begin flying in 2029 will be built and tested in North Carolina

United Airlines has purchased 15 of the high-speed Overture aircraft in a deal worth $3 billion. The jet is scheduled to enter commercial service with the airline in 2029.

Boom Overture.

Boom Supersonic

Source: Insider

The $200 million jet will fly at Mach 1.7, or about 1,300 miles per hour, and connect cities like Newark, New Jersey, and Frankfurt, Germany, in four hours. United estimates it will carry 65-88 passengers in an all-business cabin.

Boom Overture interior.

Boom Supersonic

Source: Insider

Japan Airlines also invested $10 million in Boom as part of a preorder for 20 Overture jets in 2017. The company plans to carry 45-55 business-class passengers and originally expected a mid-2020s entry to service, but there has been no update since .

Boom Supersonic Japan Airlines.

Boom Supersonic

Source: Japan Airlines, Boom Supersonic

If United’s plan stays on track, the airline will become the first commercial carrier to fly a supersonic plane in regularly scheduled passenger service since the Concorde.

Boom Overture.

Boom Supersonic

Read the original article on Business Insider



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