Airbus' Concorde 2 Could Fly From New York City To London In Just One Hour
Airbus's patent for the Concorde-2 features turbojets, ramjets, and a "rocket motor" that will combine to get you from NYC to London in an hour. So when can we board?
Updated 10/13/15. Imagine boarding a "rocket motor"-propelled plane with 19 people to get from New York to London in an hour. You'd take off vertically, shooting straight up on a set of turbojets until the rocket motor kicks in to send you to 30,000 feet, where yet a third set of engines—ramjets this time—jump in to push you forward to your destination. An hour later, touchdown in the land of the Queen.
Sound like a dream? Airbus wants to make it real. In July, the company won U.S. approval for a patented design to build an aircraft capable of flying at speeds of up to 4.5 times the speed of sound—nearly three times as fast as the supersonic Concorde jet retired in 2003—and it's been generating enormous excitement among those hoping for a travel experience above first class. Consider the possibilities: London to San Francisco in three hours. San Francisco to Tokyo in three hours. And that's only the beginning of the rush to revitalize supersonic air travel.
Airbus's design features 3 types of engine, including "a rocket motor."
Ever since the Concorde was retired (following a tragic accident in Paris in 2000 that killed 113), those who regularly flew it have never quite recovered from the loss of what was affectionately known as “the rocket," a reference to its rocket-based technology. And who can blame them? Flying at twice the speed of sound, 60,000 feet above the ground, passengers could see the curvature of the Earth, all the while hurtling through the air at 1,300 mph to cross the Atlantic Ocean in little more than three hours. That means, flying westward, you’d land in New York at local time before you had taken off from London.
Airbus’s design for a successor, though, looks nothing like the iconic needle-nosed craft that flew across the pond during the 1980s and 1990s—it’s smaller, more akin to a Jetsons flying car than a rocket, and would be configured to hold just 20 passengers, versus the 99 who fit into British Airways and Air France Concorde.
Legroom? The Concorde-2 proposes carrying just 20 passengers. Let's hope it comes with beverage service.
The next generation of commercial supersonic jets must still work to avoid the problem that plagued Concorde: the sonic boom. Airbus designers have reportedly found a way to reduce that rattling noise, which meant the plane had to fly subsonic over land to reduce noise pollution for the populations below. For now, the design has simply been patented and not built; it's not clear if the plane will ever fly, but the Airbus patent application does note the possibility for use by military. Lockheed Martin also has a concept design in place for an 80-seat airline that would turn the boom into more of a thump.
This article was originally published in August 2015. It has been updated with new information.