Rolls-Royce And Virgin Galactic Collaborate to Build Mach 3 Commercial Airliner
Supersonic jets, especially commercial ones, have had a brief yet riveting history. The first-ever supersonic passenger airliner to be built was the British-French turbojet Concorde. A collaborative project between Aérospatiale (later renamed Airbus) & British Aircraft Corporation the jet could travel at the speed of Mach 2.04 i.e 2180Km/h - over twice the speed of sound (Mach 1 being the actual speed of sound at 1234.8Km/h).
To further put this into perspective, this speed is almost 1.5 times faster than an accelerating bullet - the speed of an average handgun round was recorded at 1316Km/h!
The airliner was operational for a successful 27 years from 1976 to 2003 and was one of the only two supersonic aircrafts to ever run commercially, the other being a Soviet-build Tupolev Tu-144 that operated in the late 1970s.
Fast-forwarding to 2020, new developments are underway in the supersonic airliner arena.
Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with luxury automobile and engine makers, Rolls-Royce to design and develop new engine propulsion technology for a supersonic speed commercial aircraft.
Aiming to be the fastest commercial flight ever, the aircraft will also focus on customer experience, environmental sustainability and noise reduction (which were some of the reasons that led to the downfall of the original Concorde in 2003).
This aircraft, upon completion, will boast a speed of upto Mach 3, which is significantly higher than previous supersonic airliners. With a capacity of about 9 to 19 people, it can soar altitudes above 60,000 feet along with being able to incorporate custom cabin layouts to address customer needs, including Business & First Class seating arrangements.
The aircraft design also paves way for the use of best-in-class sustainable aviation fuel, encouraging it’s adoption in the rest of the aviation community.
The aircraft seems to operate take-off & landing like any other passenger aircraft, and is expecting to be integrated into existing airport infrastructures around the globe.
Virgin Galactic is working closely with international regulatory communities to ensure compliance with safety and environmental standards with the mission to broaden and transform global travel technologies, with a focus on customer experience.
Still in the works, we are yet to discover the fiscals and maintenance behind the idea. Stay tuned to this space to for all future details!