Who wants to fly for 19 hours? In March 2018, Singapore Airlines will begin a 19-hour direct service from Singapore to New York aboard a new ‘ultra long-range’ Airbus A350-900ULR. Meanwhile. Qantas has challenged the aviation industry to develop by 2022 aircraft that can fly for three or four hours longer, therefore making it possible to fly non-stop from Sydney to London.
That’s technically impressive, perhaps – but what about making journeys shorter, not longer?
Commercial aviation has lacked an aircraft capable of exceeding the speed of sound since the 2003 retirement of Concorde, which first flew in 1969 and could travel at twice the speed of sound. Concorde was the pinnacle of aviation achievement, able to fly from New York to London in under three hours, but it firmly belonged to the 20th century. Now it’s time for 21st century technology to take over.
Several supersonic planes are now on the drawing board that will fly faster than the speed of sound. “Sixty years after the dawn of the jet age, we’re still flying at 1960s speeds,” says Blake Scholl, chief executive officer and founder of Boom, one of the companies planning a supersonic plane. “Concorde’s designers didn’t have the technology for affordable supersonic travel, but now we do.”
Seventy years after Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1, the hyper-mach era could be close.