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June 25, 2019

Boeing’s hypersonic plane might one day fly from New York to London in two hours

June 28, 2018
Boeing announced the development of a hypersonic aircraft that would be able to cross the Atlantic in two hours, and the Pacific in just three. (Boeing)

Flying from New York City to London could be quicker than some delay-riddled MTA rides, but the two-hour flight won’t be ready for takeoff for at least 20 to 30 years.

Boeing announced this week that its hypersonic airliner will be able to cut the transatlantic flight down from eight hours by traveling five times the speed of sound, or roughly 3,800 mph.

“Humankind has always wanted to go faster — always wanted to do things faster,” Boeing’s chief scientist of hypersonics, Kevin Bowcutt, told NBC News. “People cannot make time, so there’s an inherent value in time.”

The Seattle-based company said at an industry conference that the technology could be used for military as well as commercial endeavors. The speed the planes will be able to reach will dwarf the pace current airlines travel — a paltry 550 mph.

“It’s been a dream for a while now,” Stuart Craig, an assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at the University of Arizona unaffiliated with Boeing, told NBC. “We’ve been striving for this hypersonic technology for the better part of half a century, but in recent years, advances in computational technology and materials technology have made it much more in grasp.”

But higher speeds would mean higher costs for passengers. Experts are pointing to the ill-fated Concorde, which flew from New York to London in just under four hours between 1976 and 2003 before a deadly crash in France grounded it permanently. The high ticket price to fly on the Concorde meant that most travelers on its routes did so as a luxury, similar to how some people will only fly first class once in a lifetime.

“We can do all kinds of cool things, but those cool things have to lead to something that creates value, or at the end of the day it’s not going to be all that successful,” Boeing Vice President Mike Sinnett told the news station. “In general, people flew on (the Concorde) as a novelty — it didn’t change the world, and the economics weren’t right.”

The Concorde was also up against strict rules that dictated where it could fly. Residential areas were no-fly zones for the jets as the sonic booms they created were too disruptive, NBC reported. Boeing’s future plane will also fly differently than conventional aircraft, soaring at heights near 95,000 feet instead of the standard 30,000 to 40,000.

“At that altitude, you’re going to see the curvature of the Earth below you,” Bowcutt said. “You won’t see the entire Earth, but you will see the curvature — and above you, you’ll have the blackness of space.”

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