Boeing wants to blast past the Concorde with ‘hypersonic' jet

By David Flynn, June 28 2018
Boeing wants to blast past the Concorde with ‘hypersonic' jet

London to New York in two hours? Sydney to Europe in five hours? That could be the schedule for business travellers from the late 2030s if Boeing’s plans for ‘hypersonic’ commercial travel take wing.

Bigger than a conventional private jet but smaller than a Boeing 737, the sleek beyond-supersonic jetliner portrayed in Boeing’s concept design would redline around Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound) at 6,500kph, making it nearly three times faster than the legendary Concorde.

(By way of comparison, the Airbus A380 cruises at a more sedate 900kph.)

“There is an inherent value in speed,” says Kevin Bowcutt, Senior Technical Fellow of hypersonics in Boeing Research & Technology.

"When you look at the problem of getting from Point A to Point B anywhere in the world, the question is how fast do you want to go and how fast is fast enough.”

“Supersonic isn’t really fast enough to go overseas and back in one day. For the business traveler or the military, where time is really important, that’s an interesting point.”

"Mach 5 is where you can do that.  You can get across the Atlantic in about 2 hours. and across the Pacific in about 3 hours.”

Clad in titanium and powered by still-to-be-developed engine technology, the un-named jet would scythe through earth’s upper atmosphere at 95,000 feet above sea level, far above the ceiling of regular jets.

"From that altitude you can see the curvature of the earth and the blackness of space,” Bowcutt says, although that view might be enjoyed through virtual windows showing a videocamera feed from outside the jet rather than actual windows.

Renewed interest in super-fast travel comes as airlines push the envelope of ultra-long flights, with Singapore Airlines restarting non-stop 19 hour flights to New York in October 2018 while Qantas' ambitious Project Sunrise proposes non-stop 20 hour treks from Sydney and Melbourne to New York and London from 2022.

US startup Boom has attracted the backing of Sir Richard Branson for its all-business class XB-1, with the Brit billionaire taking an option to buy the first 10 of these ‘next-gen Concordes’ due for launch in 2023.

Read: Get ready for Virgin Supersonic as Richard Branson backs Boom jet

That’s the same year targetted by the Airbus-backed Aerion AS2, a supersonic private business jet expected to carry a dozen cashed-up VIPs at March 1.5.

Aerion hopes its AS2 supersonic business jet will be flying by 2023
Aerion hopes its AS2 supersonic business jet will be flying by 2023

Boeing previously took a shot at the supersonic market in the late 1960s with the Boeing 2707 SST which counted Qantas among its customers, with the airline mapping out several ‘supersonic flight corridors’ across Australia to link the east coast capitals to Singapore, where travellers would join a supersonic BA flight to London via Bahrain.

Read more: Supersonic Qantas jet would have flown to Singapore in 3 hours


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1192

You wouldn't put your house on these "paper planes" ever coming to reality. About once a year, someone releases pretty drawings of amazing planes using technology that doesn't yet exist. Usually, the story then disappears and reappears in a slightly different format a year later but still no closer to reality.

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 68

"powered by still-to-be-developed engine technology"

Hope nobody's holding their breath...

22 May 2011

Total posts 84

Is there a market for same day business meetings given video conference is now so quickly and freely available? Yes i know that arguably face to face and virtual isn’t the same thing, but given a high cost I’m just not sure there is even a market for it, esp by 2030?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1379

Possibly kills off Boom though.

Investing big $s in an already risky jet becomes even less viable if something twice as fast is round the corner.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jan 2017

Total posts 73

First thing I noted - insufficient fuel range for most medium/long haul out of AU.

Add a stop over or two across the Pacific and just where is this time saving????

Air Canada - Aeroplan

02 Sep 2015

Total posts 16

This would require a combination ramjet / turbofan being well beyond highest speed available with turbojet. Engine would only be applicable to a single application with very small ( if any ) potential market. Development would be extremely costly and quite different to well understood programs for current civil engines. It is 50 years since I was involved with Concorde development and remember the many extra problems for a Mach 2 engine, and doubt this will ever see the light of day.

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