Future Supersonic Passenger Jet, Faster Travel and Fuel Efficiency

Supersonic flights that would reduce even the longest trip to a few hours are still on airlines’ and flight passengers wish list, even if past projects, such as the Concorde, failed at fulfilling that dream for long. A small British company, HyperMach, is thus working on the design and development of a new engine and aircraft concept that will cater to those avid for fast flying and to current air travel industry concerns: biofuels and fuel efficiency.

The engine concept presented at the Paris Air Show will power an aircraft called the Sonic Star expected to cruise at a March 3.1 speed (3.1 times the speed of sound, for those unfamiliar with the Mach concept). That is twice the speed of the Concorde aircraft, meaning a flight from New York to the Old continent would barely allow them to settle in, grab a bite and possibly watch a movie if they skip parts of it.

“Mankind has always been inspired to do things better, quicker and faster and that is our ambition,” said Richard Lugg, the chief executive of HyperMach.

The Sonic Star engine has a revolutionary design, turning supersonic flights into more efficient endeavors. The aircraft would be powered by a hybrid engine, with turbines creating electricity that would fuel other parts of the plane. It would also use electromagnetic currents across the fuselage to suppress the sonic boom, thus managing to comply with noise regulations which are a big issue for supersonic flights.

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The engine will be completed in the next 10 years, according to HyperMach development plans, the Sonic Star aircraft being expected to be ready for flight by 2025. The company has received Government help to get established and the rumours of a future partnership with a bigger player of the British aerospace industry are already circulating.

Although it will be a fuel effective aircraft, the Sonic Star will cater to those travelers with quite extensive funds for flights. Yet HyperMach aims to capitalize on their engine and adapt it to regular aircraft as well. It would then power subsonic flights that would reduce their fuel consumption by 70% to 90% due to its hybrid concept.

“Engine development is at a glass ceiling. For the past 20 years we have been seeing improvements of and a half per cent or 1 per cent a year”, Mr. Lugg explained. “But because of what is happening with the volatility of oil prices, engine efficiency has become a critical issue. Someone is going to have to take a leap forward rather than small steps.”

The speed promised by the Sonic Star is indeed impressive and quite a lot of travelers, especially in the business sector, would welcome the possibility. But the hybrid concept is far more valuable as a solution to turn the industry in a sustainable one, with less damaging consequences to the environment and partially independent from diminishing oil reserves across the world.





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