Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Chicago, IL, United States (4E) – The Boeing Company, the largest aerospace firm in the USA, has invested in the development of a revolutionary hybrid air-breathing rocket engine that might one day power its first hypersonic passenger jet.
Boeing this week unveiled a concept drawing for its first hypersonic passenger jet that should be able to slash the current 11 hour flight time from Los Angeles to Tokyo to just three hours on two of these hypersonic engines. The hypersonic jet will also cut the time of a flight between New York and London to just two hours (from seven), and a flight between Australia and Europe to less than five hours.
When built, this jet will be capable of traveling at Mach 5 or 6,170 km/h. The jet, however, will take to the skies in 20 to 30 years.
Boeing revealed the rendering of the concept aircraft at the American Institute of Aeronautics Aviation 2018 conference in Atlanta. Last year, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said that “in the next decade or two you’re going to see them become a reality. We see future innovations where you could connect around the world in about two hours.”
Aviation analysts expect the aircraft to be smaller than conventional subsonic airliners such as the Boeing 737. Boeing says its engineers are developing enabling technologies such as a hypersonic engine that will position the company for the time customers and markets are ready to reap the benefits of hypersonic flight.
“We’re excited about the potential of hypersonic technology to connect the world faster than ever before,” said Kevin Bowcutt, Senior Technical Fellow and Chief Scientist of Hypersonics with the Boeing Company.
“Boeing is building upon a foundation of six decades of work designing, developing and flying experimental hypersonic vehicles, which makes us the right company to lead the effort in bringing this technology to market in the future.”
It was also revealed that Boeing has invested in its own hypersonic engine. It’s partnered with Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems to invest in Reaction Engines, Ltd (REL), a UK-based hypersonic propulsion company.
REL’s hybrid SABRE (Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine) is a hypersonic pre-cooled hybrid air-breathing rocket engine. SABRE combines rocket and jet technology to reach Mach 5 in the air-breathing mode, and 25 times the speed of sound in rocket mode for space flight. A SABRE engine will allow a jet to travel between London and Australia in four-and-half hours.
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