A new jet, called the Antipode, could take passengers from London to New York in just 20 minutes, claims its creator.
Charles Bombardier, a Canadian designer, says the jet concept would use a new technique called ‘long penetration mode’ to reach speeds of Mach 24 – 21 times the speed of sound.
Seating only ten passengers, the Antipode would take off from a regular airport runway, before using rocket boosters to reach a height of 40,000 feet. At this point it would use its ‘supersonic combustion ramjet engine’ to fly close to 16,000 miles per hour. That’s some ten times faster than Concorde.
At those speeds, the jet could circumnavigate the planet in less than 90 minutes.
“The idea of going from New York to London in, say 20 minutes – that’s what I think really grabbed people,” Bombardier told the BBC. “It’s always something that people would like – a transportation system that could take you from one place on the planet to the other side.”
The ‘long penetration mode’ technique, recently tested by Nasa, uses air channels in the plane to cool the jet’s surfaces and reduce the noise of the sonic boom as the plane breaks the sound barrier.
The whole idea gets even stranger: the rocket boosters used at take off would separate once altitude is reached, and fly back to the airport by themselves so they can be reused. To land, the plane would glide down using its wings.
Bombardier admits that, at present, it isn’t a practical design. “In the end it’s not a practical idea – it’s a concept,” he said. “I know that it’s not going to lead to the exact aircraft at the end, but it might help to develop new technologies and new processes. If it does, then I’m happy that I did something to help society.”