An Atlanta-based start-up has plans to build a hypersonic jet that could propel passengers from New York to London five times faster than the speed of sound – reducing a typically seven-hour flight to just 90 minutes. Aerospace company Hermeus Corporation is working on propulsion technology that would allow the jet to fly at speeds of up to 3800 miles per hours. That’s about three times faster than the now-defunct Concorde, which connected the cities in under three-and-a-half hours.
A standard commercial jet currently hits speeds of about 0.85 Mach. For a jet to be classified as hypersonic, it must travel at five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5. According to Hermeus, it will take 10 years before its super fast flight takes to the skies as it continues to test and refine hypersonic technology.
“We have a ton of flying to do in that time – we’ll have at least two smaller iterations of aircraft that we’ll build, test, and learn from in that time,” Hermeus CEO, AJ Piplica, told Lonely Planet. “The main challenge is integrating the core technologies together and testing them. It’s really difficult to recreate the Mach 5 environment on the ground, which calls for a rethinking of how we develop vehicles that operate in this environment.”
While airlines will set their own ticket prices, Hermeus estimates that the New York-London route would cost about $3000 (£2736) one-way (standard business class costs) but the ultimate goal is to make it affordable. “That’s just a starting point though,” Piplica explained. “After our first commercial aircraft is flying, we’ll continue to innovate on the core technology set to improve efficiency and bring this capability to a broader customer base.”
Other companies testing hypersonic jets include Lockheed Martin and Boeing.