Boeing has unveiled its latest project in passenger flight and it is a hypersonic jet that could reach speeds of up to Mach 5 or five times the speed of sound at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics conference held Atlanta this week.
According to the aerospace giant, this aircraft concept has both military and civilian applications. In a release put out by Boeing, they have mentioned that the model and design shown is only one of many such aircraft that the company is working on in its upcoming wide range of hypersonic vehicles.
Kevin Bowcutt, senior technical fellow and chief scientist of hypersonics with Boeing said that the company is excited about connecting the world faster than ever before. "Boeing is building upon a foundation of six decades of work designing, developing and flying experimental hypersonic vehicles, which makes us the right company to lead the effort in bringing this technology to market in the future," he said.
While there is still no indication of when this project will actually take off, the company says that this kind of tech is about 20 to 30 years in the future and passengers might actually be able to fly in commercial jets that can cover vast distances in a fraction of the time.
To visualise just how fast hypersonic travel would be, one point of comparison is the only supersonic passenger flight to ever ferry passengers regularly in the world- the Concorde. Operated by Air France and British Airways had a top speed of Mach 2.04. It could cover the distance between London and New York in under 3 hours at an altitude of altitude of 18,300 metres. This remains one of the highest passenger flights ever.
Boeing wants to build an aircraft that will take passengers at over twice that speed, so that will mean, according to a report by futurism, cut down flight time by up to 85 percent. So far, the only hypersonic aircraft that exist are missiles and rockets, both of them are not built to transport people.
China in hypersonic race
Earlier this year, China also announced that the researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences were working on a hypersonic aircraft that is being built for the military, but could also carry commercial passengers. This flight has reportedly a top speed of Mach 4.95 (6,115.5 kmh). If this aircraft is successfully built, any destination on the planet will not be more than 3 hours away.
Otherwise, the closest concrete plan in place to considerably cut down flight time while travelling at much higher speeds is the SpaceX 'Earth to Earth' system where actual rockets will take off, exit the atmosphere, reenter and land. Using this yet-to-be built BFR rockets, Elon Musk says that any place on Earth can be reached in under an hour with most flights lasting less than 30 minutes.