The space tourism company Virgin Galactic announced Monday its partnership with engine maker Rolls-Royce to build a supersonic commercial aircraft it could exceed three times the speed of sound.
The plane, which would reach Mach 3, would exceed Mach 2 that reached the Concorde, the pioneer passenger aircraft of supersonic commercial flights, which operated between 1976 and 2003.
For a new airliner that breaks the sound barrier, the challenge is to solve the problems that led to the ruin of the Concorde, in particular the noise generated by the engines and the high fuel consumption.
“We are excited … to unveil this initial high-speed aircraft design concept, which we envision as the union of a safe and reliable business journey with an unrivaled customer experience,” said George Whitesides, space chief. of Virgin Galactic.
Design images show an airplane with a triangular “hang glider” that can carry between nine and 19 passengers at an altitude of more than 60,000 feet (18,000 m), about twice the altitude of a regular commercial flight.
The plane could take off and land on the runways of conventional airports.
Virgin Galactic He said his team will work to address “key challenges” posed by the routine operation of a high-security commercial aircraft, including thermal management, maintenance, noise, emissions and its economy.
The company signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Rolls-Royce to develop the aircraft engine.
Until now, Virgin Galactic It has focused primarily on developing a rocket plane to take tourists to the edge of outer space.
This other project requires more test flights and a start date for its commercial operations has not been announced.