Virgin Galactic is to work with Rolls Royce to create a supersonic aircraft capable of flying a three times the speed of sound.
The delta-wing aircraft would have capacity for nine to 19 people flying at an altitude above 60,000ft.
It would be able to incorporate custom cabin layouts, including business or first class seating arrangements.
The design also aims to help lead the way toward use of “state-of-the-art sustainable aviation fuel,” according to a design revealed by the company, part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
The design is geared around making high-speed travel “practical, sustainable, safe, and reliable, while making customer experience a top priority”.
Concorde, which retired in 2003, flew at Mach 2 – twice the speed of sound, or about 1,300mph. Virgin Galactic plans an aircraft that would reach Mach 3, about 2,300mph.
Virgin Galactic is designing the aircraft for a range of operational scenarios, including service for passengers on long-distance commercial aviation routes.
It would take off and land like any other passenger aircraft and be expected to integrate into existing airport infrastructure and international airspace around the world.
Virgin Galactic posted a second quarter net loss of $63 million, compared to a $60 million loss in first three months of 2020.
Virgin Galactic chief space officer George Whitesides said: “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.
“We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high speed travel.”
Rolls-Royce North America chairman and chief executive Tom Bell added: “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.”
Virgin Galactic is working with the US Federal Aviation Administration to outline a certification framework, although no timeframe for launch was disclosed.
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