Startup to develop hypersonic plane capable of flying between New York and London in just 90 minutes
Source: Hermeus Corporation
An Atlanta-based startup plans to develop a plane capable of flying passengers between London and New York in just 90 minutes.
According to the announcement from the aerospace company Hermeus Corporation, the flight time between the two cities, which currently takes over seven hours, could eventually take roughly an hour and a half with a hypersonic plane capable of traveling at Mach 5 (five times faster than the speed of sound, which is Mach 1).
“We've set out on a journey to revolutionize the global transportation infrastructure, bringing it from the equivalent of dial-up into the broadband era, by radically increasing the speed of travel over long distances," AJ Piplica, Hermeus' co-founder and CEO, said.
The announcement has also attracted criticism from experts in the aerospace field. Paul Bruce, a senior lecturer in the aeronautics department at Imperial College London cautioned: "The biggest challenge for hypersonic flight is propulsion," he said. "We've sent small vehicles up and flown them hypersonically using scramjets, an advance type of jet engine. This is quite experimental and we've got a long way to go before we see these on a passenger aircraft.”
Bruce went on to explain that financial and environmental issues will also emerge along with planes flying that fast, as they are bound to burn more fuel.
However, Piplica explained that the passenger aircraft Hermeus is proposing will likely take a decade to develop, which means a substantial amount of flying, testing and learning will need to be done in that time.
"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. That means you have to fly. We have to build a lot of hardware and fly it early so we can learn and iterate quickly," said Piplica.
If the plane's development is successful, a one-way flight between New York and London could cost passengers roughly $3,000.
Hermeus Corporation is joining the ranks of Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Aerion Corporation who have all announced that they are working on hypersonic aircraft.
This article was originally published on Globalspec.com.