Rolls-Royce And Virgin Galactic Collaborate to Build Mach 3 Commercial Airliner

Rolls-Royce And Virgin Galactic Collaborate to Build Mach 3 Commercial Airliner

Rolls-Royce and Virgin Galactic team up to build the first-ever Mach 3 commercial Airliner. Read on to learn more about the phenomenal future project.

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.

Limited to 20 Concordes, only 14 went into regular service for Air France & British Airways during it’s span of 27 years.
Limited to 20 Concordes, only 14 went into regular service for Air France & British Airways during it’s span of 27 years.

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).

"We are pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls-Royce as we strive to develop sustainable, cutting-edge propulsion systems for the aircraft, and we are pleased to be working with the FAA to ensure our designs can make a practical impact from the start. We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high speed travel."
George Whitesides, Chief Space Officer - Virgin Galactic
Design Concept Render
Design Concept Render

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.

"Rolls-Royce brings a unique history in high speed propulsion, going back to the Concorde, and offers world-class technical capabilities to develop and field the advanced propulsion systems needed to power commercially available high-Mach travel."
Tom Bell, North America Chairman & CEO - Rolls-Royce
Design Concept Render
Design Concept Render

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!

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