Hypersonic jet concepts have been floating around the aviation industry for years. However, none of the designs have ever come to commercial fruition…until now. Hermeus Corporation is an aerospace design company located in Atlanta, Georgia that has secured financing to develop just such a plane. The money has been seeded into the company in hopes of creating a vehicle that can travel at Mach 5, or 5 times faster than the speed of sound.
How fast is Mach 5?
You may wonder exactly how fast this hypersonic jet can travel, and the answer is mind blowing. If the aircraft is actually built and put into service, a trans-Atlantic flight would become a mere commute. According to CNN, a New York to London flight would be able to be accomplished in just 90 minutes. I have spent more time than that just sitting on the tarmac in the past. The cruising speed of this aircraft will be 3,300 miles per hour.
Revolutionary Air Travel
The end goal of Hermeus Corporation is to completely revolutionize air travel forever. AJ Piplica is the co-founder and CEO of the company. He states on the company website, “We’ve set out on a journey to revolutionize the global transportation infrastructure, bringing it from the equivalent of dial-up into the broadband era, by radically increasing the speed of travel over long distances.” If they are truly able to build the hypersonic jet, it will indeed alter the way people look at long distance travel.
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The designers of the hypersonic jet for Hermeus Corporation are more than qualified in their fields. The founders of the company include former employees of both SpaceX and Blue Origin. SpaceX is notably owned by Elon Musk, and is well known in the aeronautical industry. Blue Origin is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and is much more secretive in nature. All four of the founders worked together on the development of the US Air Force’s latest X-Plane, as well as having been on the team at Generation Orbit where they worked to design a hypersonic rocket plane.
Paul Bruce is a senior lecturer at the Imperial College in London. His field is aeronautics and he has warned that there are risks associated with flying a hypersonic jet. “The biggest challenge for hypersonic flight is propulsion. We’ve sent small vehicles up and flown them hypersonically using scramjets, an advance type of jet engine. This is quite experimental and we’ve got a long way to go before we see these on a passenger aircraft. There are many other difficulties with flying that quickly routinely — we do have the engineering capabilities to do it. The bigger issue is the financial and perhaps the environmental issue; flying that fast will burn an awful lot of fuel, and will be much more inefficient than flying slowly. But if there is a market for it, I don’t have any doubt that we could build one of these types of planes.
Piplica says that it will take a decade to design and build a working hypersonic jet with the ability to carry passengers. “We have a ton of flying to do in that time — we’ll have at least two smaller iterations of aircraft that we’ll build, test, and learn from in that time.” It may a little while before we can make that 90 minute hop to London, but if everything goes according to plan we could see that become a reality in the near future.