Plans have been drawn up for a supersonic successor to Concorde capable of flying from London to New York in an hour.
Documents lodged by Airbus to the US Patent Office describe a rocket-powered “ultra-rapid air vehicle” aimed at business travellers and VIPs who require transcontinental return journeys within one day.
The delta wing aircraft would cruise at an altitude of more than 100,000ft and carry up to 20 passengers for distances of about 5,500 miles.
The futuristic aircraft would be capable of flying more than four times the speed of sound – or more than 2,500mph. This would be twice the speed of Concorde.
Airbus says routes such as Paris-San Francisco and Tokyo-Los Angeles could be completed in three hours, operating from conventional airports where hydrogen and liquid oxygen refuelling is available.
Power would come from “at least one” conventional jet that could be retracted into the fuselage, one or more ramjets, which use the forward speed of the aircraft to compress the air entering them before it is mixed with fuel and ignited and a rocket motor powered by hydrogen and oxygen.
The rocket motor used in combination with conventional jets to power a “near vertical ascendant flight” until it breaks the sound barrier when the engines are retracted in the fuselage and the ramjets take over.
The aircraft would then cruise on the edge of space, high above conventional aircraft, before slowing down and entering normal air traffic close to its destination.
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