The quest for supersonic travel is – as mentioned in a previous article – after a dormant period revitalized substantially. Several companies are struggling with aircraft design in various sizes and shapes. It’s been 17 years since the last flight of the Concorde and now one prototype is scheduled for its first flight before the end of next year. Most manufacturers are so far aiming for the business jet segment with less than 20 passengers but one company stands out. With the suitable company name Boom Overture, the development of a 55 seat premium aircraft is leading the race for speed. All available modern efficiency parameters are involved in the design, including engines with no need for afterburners. It will be slightly faster (M 2,2) than the Concorde with a slightly longer range while being able to offer ticket prices at a quarter of that for Concorde – or rather similar to a normal business class ticket. Extensive test flights are planned for two years and hopes are high that it will be in commercial use by the end of next decade. Orders are already being placed by airlines including Virgin Atlantic and Japan Airlines.
Others are following. Worth mentioning is the plans by Virgin Galctic for the Virgin Galactic Mach 3, initially planned for 19 passengers, but with the ambition to up-size to a bigger version more suitable for airlines, where the speed would be the competitive edge. Spike is another company focusing on long range (11.500 km) and efficiency with a reduced sonic boom, and with a windowless cabin with external images projected inside. The number of passengers not certain.
Most spectacular is a Mach 5 project by Lockeed Martin together with NASA, initially not planned for, but at a later stage developed for passenger use, if all goes well. Now we are talking hypersonic.
So if you ”feel the need for speed”, the future looks bright, or at least better than before. That goes for just about everything these days, and anyone reading this; have a Happy New Year.