In Which I Lament The Failure To Build Modern Supersonic Transportation

It sure seems like recently we’ve really been bombarded with potential new breakthroughs in high flying supersonic transportation. While I hope that in my lifetime hyper flying jets will be a common sight at the airport, I think that these outlandish attempts are simply viral marketing schemes that end up as vaporware.

It’s been 12 years since the final flight of Concorde, why haven’t we seen any progress? The last 40 years at attempts to design passenger flight that exceeds the speed of sound has turned up some truly astounding creations. I’ve compiled a list of 11 outlandish attempts at creating the next Concorde.

Advertisement

Take this example. The HyperMach Sonicstar is chocked so full of techno mumbo jumbo that its almost embarrassing. In fact, the primary technology that makes it feasible has yet to be invented.

Do you think we’ll ever see another passenger aircraft that will fly faster than Mach 1?

3. HyperMach SonicStar

Expected to travel at speed in excess of Mach 3, the SonicStar is the brainchild of Sonicblue Aerospace CEO Richard Luggs. At the heart of the outlandish business class jet are two (theoretical) SonicBlue Supersonic-Magnetic Advanced Generation Jet electric turbine hybrid supersonic engines. If all those buzzwords have your head spinning, you’ll be even more befuddled when you try to understand how it’s actually supposed to work.

Traditionally on a jet engine, a bypass fan at the front is connected to a free-spinning turbine that is spun by hot exhaust gasses exiting the rear. The electric hybrid design proposed for the SonicStar would use electricity generated from burning fuel to rotate the bypass fan. The fan speed could then be varied to the optimal speed for maximum efficiency.

The SonicStar would need extreme tech to reduce the high temperatures caused by friction between the air and the skin of the aircraft. The plans include carbon composite structural skins and panels with alloy leading edges wrapped around titanium structure wings to reduce weight.

None of this is cheap. And some of these technologies can’t be bought because they haven’t been invented yet. To eliminate the sonic boom, for instance, the SonicStar would use electromagnetic drag reduction technology (currently not in existence). If all goes according to plan, first test flights will begin in 2021.


Chris is a pilot who loves airplanes and cars and his writing has been seen on Jalopnik and Popular Mechanics. Contact him with questions or comments via twitter or email.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter