Making the dream of millions of travelers come true, Boeing has unveiled a plan for a hypersonic passenger jet, known as the Mach 5, that could fly from the US to Japan in just three hours. The only drawback is that the cost for such a plane could be sky high, making the project unviable. Still, it presents a hope for the future for many people hoping to fly from LA to Tokyo in just three hours or from New York to London in just two.
Boeing revealed its rendering of the design for the hypersonic passenger plane, which could potentially travel at 3,800 mph, at an aerospace conference in Atlanta. The project has the support of Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who would like the company to explore advances to create ultra-fast passenger planes.
"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 key factor for developing such a plane would be to design lightweight materials for the fuselage and new engines that would propel the planes at hypersonic speeds. John Plueger, president, and CEO of AirLease Corp. is not to clear on the idea. “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 would like to have hypersonic planes in service by the late 2030s, though the project could take a decade longer to implement. The company recently accelerated its research into hypersonic flight and has revealed designs for an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) military jet capable of reaching Mach 5 speed in January.
Though the company has not settled on a dimension for the proposed plane, it would be smaller than a 737, seating roughly 20 to 100 passengers. It would cruise at 95,000 feet, 30,000 feet higher than the supersonic Concorde, and 60,000 feet higher than the average aircraft. That altitude would maximize the efficiency of the engines and keep turbulence at a minimum since the air density so far up is much lower.
Hypersonic jets would compete against the suborbital rockets developed by SpaceX’s Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson, who have expressed interest in adapting their rockets for international flights that would transport passengers from New York to Sydney in just one hour.