Virgin Galactic enlists Rolls-Royce for Mach 3 passenger aircraft concept

Virgin Galactic enlists Rolls-Royce for Mach 3 passenger aircraft concept

Virgin Galactic is developing a supersonic jet that will fly passengers from London to NY in 90 minutes.

Richard Branson could shoot into space on his Virgin Galactic aircraft as its first passenger early next year, the company said, potentially blazing a path for commercial flights.

"We are excited to partner with Virgin Galactic to explore the future of sustainable high-speed flight", said Rolls-Royce North America Chairman & CEO Tom Bell in the statement.

Both the Concorde, which was in service from 1976 to 2003, and the Soviet-built Tupolev Tu-144, which had a passenger service life of only three years, flew at a cruising speed of just over Mach 2.

The project hopes to make the supersonic boom - the explosion caused by crossing the sound barrier - nearly inaudible on the ground.

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

The aircraft's cabin is created to offer every passenger either a Business or First-Class-level seating and service experience.

Although it has been nearly two decades since Concorde stopped flying, there are several U.S. companies looking to bring supersonic flights back to the skies in 2023, including Boom Supersonic, which is developing a 55-seater Overture aircraft; Aerion Supersonic, which is also working on a 12-seater with Lockheed Martin; and Spike Aerospace's plans to fly 12-18 passengers non-stop from Dubai to NY in around half the time it now takes modern planes.

The aircraft would take off and land like any other passenger aircraft and be expected to integrate into existing airport infrastructure and global airspace around the world. (AP) The Virgin Galactic aircraft will fly at an altitude of 60,000ft.

Virgin Galactic and its subsidiary, The Spaceship Company, introduced a new supersonic jet design concept on Monday aimed at the long-distance commercial aviation segment.

The delta-wing aircraft has already passed its Mission Concept Review (MCR) and the company has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rolls-Royce to design and develop the engine to power it.

While supersonic travel on previous designs such as the Concorde and SST was eventually phased out due to cost inefficiency, financial analysts believe this has changed given the demand for high-speed travel is expected to rise and because of the advancement in new designs and technologies that have improved efficiencies.

Some of the problems now being sorted out are which materials to use in construction in order to "address key challenges in thermal management, maintenance, noise, emissions, and economics that routine high speed commercial flights would entail", the company said.

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