“Hi Mom, looks like we’re on time. See you in 1 hour.” – A common text message sent by those of us that fly regularly between Durban and Johannesburg. And if experts have anything to do about it, it won’t be long before you’re sending the same text; the only difference being that you’ll be sending it before you hop on your flight from London to New York.
The US Air Force (cue the conspiracy theorists) is already testing the feasibility of hypersonic, time defiant travel with sound barrier breaking technology. Just yesterday (Tuesday 15 August 2012) they unleashed its hypersonic X-51A Waverider vehicle off the Californian coast. In its test phase, it’s basically a missile-shaped jet designed to go transatlantic (New York to London) at a speed of 4500 miles per hour – that’s 5 times as fast as usual transatlantic flights!
- The test vehicle (X-51A Waverider) is 25 foot long and reaches a Mach 6 speed
- The air force has so far spent about $140 million on the project
- In May 2010, the Waverider made its first flight at 3 500 mph for 143 seconds before a malfunction caused the test to shut down early
- The program was designed for each vehicle to be destroyed at the end of its flight test because of the cost that would be involved in recovering them from the sea
- The aircraft uses “scramjet” technology, an engine with virtually no moving parts. It uses oxygen from the atmosphere for its engines, as opposed to carrying large fuel tanks that rockets require, making it a more efficient vehicle for commercial purposes
- According to experts and engineers we’re not far off from realizing this new aviation dream – they’d like to have a working military prototype powered by hypersonic technology by 2016
Of course there’s more at stake than the speed of your flight. Imagine how logistics on the ground will need to be improved to accommodate previously unheard of airport turnover times. It could also mean there’ll no longer be a need for flight attendants to serve drinks and a meal, and there would be no more groggy feeling after those demanding overseas flights… or would there?
To find awesome flights to New York go here.
Do you think the invention of hypersonic commercial aircraft could take the fun and excitement out of long haul flights as we know them? Will there be a need for exorbitantly priced Business Class seats? Let us know in the comments below