Two aviation companies are working on aircraft capable of matching speeds of the Concorde, a sleek, delta-winged jet that regularly used to cross the Atlantic in half the time of a conventional carrier.
Nevada-based company Aerion Corporation recently released plans to construct a 12-passenger executive jet called the AS2, which on paper is designed to travel at more than 1,000 miles per hour. Meanwhile in Denver, a hangar owned by Boom Supersonic is already building Overture, a 75-seat cruiser that could reach speeds of nearly 1,500 miles per hour.
3 High Sticker Prices
Neither project is going to be cheap with Aerion's As2 bearing a sticker price of $120 million, with Boom's Overture costing significantly more at $200 million. But the manufacturers have considerable backing with a few contracts making the endeavors more feasible.
Aerion, which partnered with such heavyweights as GE and Honeywell already has a 20-plane order from FlexJet. Boom already has backing from Japan Airlines, which has already asked the company to build 20 jets, while the Virgin Group is committed to buying 10 of the aircraft.
2 Speedy Concorde
Ironically, the hopes of resurrecting the days of the Concorde, which commercially took to the air in 1973 before being decommissioned 30 years later. Although the speedy plane was able to travel from London to New York in an amazing three and a half hours at a mouth-dropping altitude of 50,000 feet, it was far too expensive to maintain. The plane's carbon emissions while in flight also didn't help its case, and at a time when climate change horror stories are big headline-grabbers, the likelihood of a supersonic equivalent returning to the skies seems hardly in the cards.
But neither company is deterred by any opposition towards a type of plane with a history of not being ecologically friendly. AS2's engines are being designed to have the lowest fuel-burn rate possible, while Overture is looking at cleaner biofuels options. Both builders are also taking into account noise pollution, like the sonic boom synonymous with the Concorde, and have designed measures to reduce those high-decibel emissions.
1 Environmental Efficiency
Besides environmental efficiency, there's additional savings that make a new supersonic jet more in-demand these days. With corporations trying to cut out any fat from its operations, time is rapidly becoming a budget factor. A recent AS2 flight simulation impressed owners of a New York-based jet chartering company when the plane demonstrated it could save 142 hours a year in an executive's company time.
The speed of what's being offered by these two supersonic upstarts have impressed one owner of a charter service called PrivateFly who declared he would have no problem getting customers willing to even shave off a half-hour from their travel time. And if that's enough to warrant supersonic comeback, those friendly skies are about to get a lot faster.