Airbus has filed a patent for a supersonic aircraft that flies twice as fast as the Concorde and could get you from Tokyo to Los Angeles or San Francisco to Paris in a ridiculous three hours, or roughly the time that it currently takes to fly from San Francisco to Dallas. The unnamed “ultra rapid air vehicle” would flat-out blow your eyebrows back, as it could reach speeds that range from Mach 4 to Mach 4.5 – more than four times the speed of sound – a speedometer reading that makes the Concorde seem sluggish by comparison.
The jet would have three different kinds of engines, each that would be active during different parts of the flight. As explained by Deepak Gupta, the Patent Yogi, the two turbojets would propel the aircraft during taxiing and takeoff and then would retract into the fuselage before the rocket engine (yes, this plane has a rocket engine) would propel it in a “near vertical” flight path. After the plane reached an altitude of 30,000 to 35,000 meters (98,425 to 114,829 feet), the rocket engine would also retract into the fuselage and it would be propelled horizontally by the two wing-mounted ramjets.
According to the patent application, the designers see the jet being used for both civil or military applications. “In the case of civil applications, the market envisaged is principally that of business travelers and VIP passengers who require transcontinental journeys within one day,” the designers wrote. And that’s patent-speak for “There’s no way you could afford one of the 20 seats on this jet, so don’t get your hopes up.”
If it were to enter service as a military plane, the designers envision it being used to conduct surveillance missions, to transport “high added-value goods” or to carry out precision missile strikes. Although there’s a reasonably good chance this plane won’t be developed beyond these drawings, it has been designed to reduce the sonic boom and environmental impact that prevented the Concorde from ever operating over land. “This noise,” the patent application says “has been the main limit preventing the opening of lines other than transatlantic ones for the Concorde aircraft.” Because this futuristic jet would be launched vertically like a space shuttle, the sound energy generated would travel parallel to the earth, preventing the molar-rattling bang that other craft produce when they break the sound barrier.
And now that three-hour flight to Dallas seems way less impressive.