Flights: Virgin Galactic unveils supersonic jet which can fly to New York in two hours

Flights to long-haul destinations could soon no longer take up most of the day. Virgin Galactic has unveiled plans for its new supersonic jet that can travel all the way across the world from London to Sydney in just five hours. The Virgin Group British space flight company announced the first stage design scope for the build of its Mach 3 plane yesterday.

Virgin Galactic has teamed up with engine-maker Rolls-Royce for the venture.

A delta-wing jet, the aircraft would cruise at above 60,000ft (18,300m) which is much higher than normal planes fly now.

It would zoom through the air at a top speed of around 2,300mph (3,700kmh) -three times the speed of sound.

Supersonic travel was previously possible with Concorde, but the jets retired in October 2003.

Tickets for the Virgin Galactic flights will be fiercely competed for – the jet only has room for nine to 19 people.

Business or First Class seating arrangements will be available.

The aircraft design also aims to help lead the way toward the use of state-of-the-art sustainable aviation fuel.

The jet would take off and land like any other passenger aircraft and be expected to integrate into existing airport infrastructure and international airspace around the world.

Virgin Galactic said in a statement: “The design philosophy of the aircraft is geared around making high speed travel practical, sustainable, safe, and reliable, while making customer experience a top priority.

“Virgin Galactic is designing the aircraft for a range of operational scenarios, including service for passengers on long-distance commercial aviation routes.”

Virgin hopes to “open up a new frontier in high-speed travel” with the new plane.

George Whitesides, Chief Space Officer, Virgin Galactic said: “We are excited to complete the Mission Concept Review and unveil this initial design concept of a high-speed aircraft, which we envision as blending safe and reliable commercial travel with an unrivalled customer experience.”

He continued: “We are pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls-Royce as we strive to develop sustainable, cutting-edge propulsion systems for the aircraft, and we are pleased to be working with the FAA to ensure our designs can make a practical impact from the start.

“We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high-speed travel.”

The update from Virgin Galactic follows the successful completion of its Mission Concept Review (MCR” program milestone and authorisation from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation to work with Virgin Galactic to outline a certification framework.

The MCR concluded that the team can progress to the next phase of design.

This consists of defining specific system architectures and configurations, and determining which materials to use in the design and manufacturing of the aircraft.

The team will also work to address key challenges in thermal management, maintenance, noise, emissions, and economics that routine high-speed commercial flights would entail.

“This marks an exciting step forward,” said Virgin Galactic.

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