The aviation world was rocked by the incoming news of Virgin Galactic, with their decision to enter the supersonic race with its own incredible MACH supersonic jet. How fast does it go and when will we fly on its watch is yet to find out. Virgin Galactic, a brand of Sir. Richard Branson, well known for its low earth orbit rocket ship, has decided to throw in its hat into the aviation marketplace. Specifically, with a supersonic jet capable of flying at Mark 3. This is a big deal because it’s roughly double the speed of the Concorde. The company has only finished a mission concept review with NASA but is confident to maneuver forward to further development. Speaking to the press chief space officer George Whitesides at virgin galactic said they’re excited to finish the mission concept review and unveil this first design concept of high-speed aircraft is set to blend safe and provide reliable commercial travel with unrivaled customer experience. They are also pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls Royce as they attempt to develop a sustainable leading-edge system for an aircraft and that they were excited to be working with the FAA to ensure that their designs make a practical impact from the start they have had great progress so far. Now they are looking forward to opening up a new frontier in high-speed travel. High-speed travel is something that should be sought after while you can pay to fly an incredible luxury, you cannot arrive at your destination any faster than someone sitting in the back of the plane. This will change everything.
Let’s discuss what it will be like onboard. This new virgin galactic aircraft according to the airframe maker the cabin will seat 9 to 19 passengers depending on how much luxury the aircraft is fittest with. There will be enough room for 9 live flatbeds or the equivalent of a Singapore Airbus A380 first class cabin configuration or 19 seats in the operator wants to fly it in a high-density configuration before you land by the designers for not including Live flat seats onboard the high-density configuration. Remember that passengers on board won’t need to sleep once they fly to their destination at Mach 3. Mach 3 is the equivalent of 700 kilometers per hour or 2300 miles per hour. In real terms, if you are flying from London to New York which is five and a half thousand kilometers or three and a half thousand miles, it would take approximately 7 hours and 50 minutes on a standard subsonic aircraft but 2 hours 52 minutes is the record time of the Concorde or virgin galactic new offering can fly that distance in 1 hour 30 minutes. The speed is twice of the Concorde. Once you understand how briskly this aircraft is, it becomes no contest for money else on the market.
The other destinations with staggering eye water results are.
From Sydney to Melbourne in 11 minutes and 33 seconds;
Sydney to London in 4 hours 35 minutes and five seconds;
Los Angeles to New York in 1 hour and 3 minutes and 46 seconds;
Los Angeles to San Francisco in 9 minutes and 3 seconds;
London to Paris in 5 minutes and 35 seconds;
London to Dubai in 44 minutes and 19 seconds;
From Tokyo to Los Angeles in 2 hours 22 minutes and 37 seconds;
And from Tokyo to sunny Honolulu in 1 hour 40 minutes and 20 seconds.
Some of the major problems with the 2.0 version:
Concorde’s Olympus engines were designed during the first wave of supersonic engines and were extremely inefficient compared to those developed today. They were also largely underpowered for the aircraft and were required to run at dull afterburner during takeoff, generating an afar greater amount of noise than if it hadn’t needed full power at that stage of flight. Concorde was designed for standard passenger service. Today, many of the resurgent SST designs like those of Boom and Aerion are catered towards business aviation clientele, where speed is the primary value and the cost is irrelevant to them. While not on display in this design, other new SST designs have focused on changes to airframe design which mitigates the sonic boom. The environmental impact is still a big question, but there is an effort to develop less impactful biofuels. The most impactful flight routes for supersonic aircraft, long-distance, transpacific, are in far higher demand than when Concorde was developed. While China’s economy took off in the 90s, Concorde wasn’t designed for a nonstop flight of that nature. These types of flights also avoid existing overland supersonic flight restrictions.
The Concorde was profitable right till the end. It went under because Airbus didn’t want to keep creating parts of it. But British airways were making millions on it. Concorde’s mistake was targeting normal people and not billionaires. This aircraft has a much different market. The Concorde was way ahead of its time and since it was too early they thought to cater to economy passengers which might have cost 250k dollars. This jet will only be for private travel. Business jets are the only real market for faster travel. Rich people don’t care about the money they care about time. And there is market demand for it which aids in the likelihood of it being built.
There are plenty of issues with the above numbers such as takeoff and landings range and sonic boom restrictions but it does give you a great perspective. The aircraft will be flying so fast that it will need to fly at 60000 feet to avoid another aircraft but the team at virgin galactic plan to have it land at normal airports and use the same infrastructure such as an airport gate. This new virgin galactic will progress to the next phase of the design consisting of defining configurations and specific system architectures and determining which materials to use in the design and manufacturing of the aircraft. It is informed that the team will also work to address key challenges in maintenance noise emissions, thermal management, and economics that routine high-speed commercial flights will entail. Just like the battle between the Concorde the TU 144 and Boeing 2707 could we be entering the next supersonic rise? Well, it might take a lot of time to find that out but we always welcome such new comings. It’s unbelievable how in the past few weeks, out of nowhere two companies are saying that they are building a test flight in 2020 bringing in exciting as we are in the next supersonic jet race.