The Concord used to take 3.5 hours to travel across the pond from New York to London. A new concept for a plane unveiled by EADS, the parent company of Airbus, at the Paris Air Show yesterday is supposed to make that trip in 90 minutes.
What's more, the Zero Emission Hypersonic Transportation, or Zehst, accomplishes the feat by burning biofuel made from seaweed. Here's Crunchgear on how the airplane would work:
The crazy Mach 4 speeds are achieved through a three stage process. Conventional jet engines are used to allow the plane to takeoff from a normal airport runway and avoid the Concorde's hated sonic boom. Once at the appropriate altitude, rocket engines would propel the aircraft even higher and faster allowing for the ramjet engines to takeover. These engines, which cannot be used from a standstill, are normally used for missiles and would, at least in theory, allow 100 passengers and crew to hit a cruising speed of 3,125 MPH six miles above the Earth.
Exciting right? Well the Daily Mail reports that the world might have to wait at least 40 years before one of these jets is ready to make a commercial flight. But the EADS representative they talked to said they had worked on the concept long enough that they think it's viable.
Here's a video simulation of the aircraft in action:
The Daily Mail also spoke to an expert, who expressed doubt that a commercial jet with a 100-passenger capacity could be successful:
But its limited capacity could be a major flaw, according to aviation experts. David Kaminski-Morrow, air transport editor at Flight International, said: "It is still very much a concept vehicle, but it is within capability, the technology is available. The real difficulty is the economics of making a completely new type of aircraft work. It will take billions to take it off the drawing board and into the skies.
"But will there be an appetite to build an aircraft that does not take an awful lot of passengers?"
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