August 22, 2012

Feeling hypersonic?

Last week the US military ran tests on their new hypersonic jet – Waverider.

Waverider is designed to reach a flight speed of Mach 6 (3 600 mph), which would mean a flight from London to New York would take 1 hour.

On this test Waverider didn’t reach Mach 6, but the race is on for supersonic and hypersonic jets.

The difference between supersonic and hypersonic is measured in Mach. Supersonic is considered to be Mach 1.25 – Mach 5 and hypersonic is above Mach 5. Mach 1 is the speed of sound.

The original supersonic aircraft – Concorde, flew between London and New York in just over 3 hours, at a speed of Mach 2.

Last year Hypermach (a British aircraft manufacturer) revealed their supersonic aircraft SonicStar, which can cruise at Mach 3.6 (London to New York in an estimated 1 hour 45 minutes). SonicStar is due for certification in 2025.

SonicStar uses biofuel (based on seaweed) and (unlike Concorde) will be able to fly at supersonic speed over both land and sea (SonicStar doesn’t produce the sonic boom of Concorde).

Further ahead of SonicStar is the Aerion Corporation’s Aerion SBJ. Whilst its top speed will be slower than SonicStar at Mach 1.5, it would be able to carry up to 12 passengers and is expected to enter the market as soon as 2015.

Whilst hypersonic and supersonic aircraft have yet to enter the market for private jet charter, there’s no doubt that these aircraft will be in demand from leisure and business flyers who already use private aviation to save time. The only question is when will supersonic or hypersonic aircraft be available on the aircraft charter market?

For those looking to get close to the speed of sound, the fastest jet available to charter on the PrivateFly network is currently the Citation X, with a top speed of Mach 0.92. Read more about Citation X jets

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