Imagine flying from the US to Japan in just three hours. This may soon be a possibility thanks to the proposed Boeing hypersonic jet, also known as the Mach 5. The proposal, which is still in its infancy, has a couple of drawbacks, including being extremely expensive. However, many are hopeful that the aerospace giant will find a way to build the hypersonic jet, which could also travel from New York to London in just two hours.
Boeing unveiled its rendering of the design for the hypersonic passenger jet, which would fly at an estimated speed of 3,800 mph, at an aerospace conference in Atlanta. The project has been supported by Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who wants Boeing to further explore the possibility of ultra-fast passenger jets.
“I think in the next decade or two you’re going to see them become a reality,” Muilenburg told CNBC at the Paris Air Show in 2017. “We see future innovations where you could connect around the world in about two hours.”
The design of a hypersonic jet would necessitate lightweight design materials for the fuselage and advanced engines that could reach hypersonic speeds. John Plueger, president, and CEO of Air Lease Corp. has expressed doubts. “It’s hard for me to see, at least in the next 15-20 years, that it’s going to be so cost competitive that it’s going to compel the airlines to take a stab at it,” he told CNBC.
Boeing is aiming to make the hypersonic jet a reality by the late 2030s, though the project could potentially take another decade to see the light of day. The aerospace company has recently increased its investment in hypersonic flight technology and has revealed proposals for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) military jets capable of reaching hypersonic speed in January.
The dimensions for the Boeing hypersonic jet are not yet known, though it is expected that it would be smaller than a 737, and seat an estimated 20 to 100 passengers. The jet would cruise at 95,000 feet, 30,000 feet higher than the supersonic Concorde, and 60,000 feet higher than the average passenger plane. The increased altitude would increase the efficiency of its engines and reduce turbulence.
Hypersonic jets would enter into competition with the suborbital rockets that are being developed by SpaceX’s Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson, who stated their intention to adapt their rockets for international passenger flights that would take travelers from New York to Sydney in just one hour.