Boeing unveils hypersonic passenger plane concept

Credit: Boeing

Credit: Boeing

Boeing unveiled its concept for a hypersonic passenger plane at an aviation conference in Atlanta this week.

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The aircraft manufacturer said the concept could have military or commercial uses and is “one of several hypersonic vehicle concepts spanning a wide range of potential applications company engineers are studying.” Boeing debuted the concept at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics aviation conference in Atlanta this week.

Supersonic means speeds faster than the speed of sound, while hypersonic relates to speeds of at least five times the speed of sound.

Boeing's chief scientist of hypersonics, Kevin Bowcutt, didn't speculate on when hypersonic flight might be a reality, but said "it's possible a hypersonic passenger vehicle could be airborne in 20 to 30 years," according to a written statement.

Other companies have also been pursuing research on supersonic technology, including Savannah business jet maker Gulfstream.

It has been nearly 15 years since the supersonic Concorde passenger plane was retired, after a 2000 crash near Paris shortly after takeoff. The Concorde could fly from London to New York in three-and-a-half hours.

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