Remember when people would dress up for a flight? When your meals came with ‘real’ cutlery? Probably not. The death of the Concorde might have been the last nail in the golden era of air travel, where every flight you took was an occasion. However, aircraft designers are hard at work trying to kick off a new era of faster, more comfortable and more affordable flights.
Supersonic flight could make a comeback Ask anyone who grew up in the ’80s. Life goals were all about driving a Ferrari and flying in a Concorde. This supersonic aircraft could do the London-New York transatlantic hop in around three hours when other aircraft took over eight. The difference might have narrowed since then (the current record for a subsonic flight is around five hours and 13 minutes), but one still assumes supersonic flights would find takers. Unfortunately, safety and noise pollution concerns killed the Concorde, and the latter reason has been enough to dissuade anyone from developing a supersonic airliner— until now.
Airbus has patented what it calls the ‘Ultra Rapid Air Vehicle.’ If it’s ever built, this rocket-powered airliner could fly at Mach 4.5, enough to do London to New York in an hour. It’ll use conventional jet engines to get high up in the air and then ignite its rockets to go supersonic, all the while climbing even higher. Then, there’s the German Aerospace Centre’s SpaceLiner concept, which could one day use reusable liquid rocket engines to fly at 25 times the speed of sound. But, if that sounds like something a bit too far-fetched, Virgin Galactic has tied up with a US startup, Boom to work on a superso