I remember being very disappointed back in 2003 when the supersonic jet Concord was retired from use. At that time it seemed peculiar that the fastest commercial jet in the world was no longer going to be used. Nowadays the dream of getting around the world faster lives on, this time in the labratories of the European Space Agency as they work on a new type of hypersonic passenger jet called the A2.
The ESA team known as Lapcat hope to have the A2 flying by 2040, a seemingly far-away goal, but one they are confident can be achieved. Such a plane would fly several times above the speed of sound, a velocity that can change the physics of an aircraft. Demands regarding materials that could best handle the speed and the heat that would be involved will have to be addressed in order for the A2 to travel safely and efficiently. The goal is to cut flight times, especially for long haul flights.
When Concord retired in the early 2000′s, it had been plagued by a crash investigation and difficulty attracting customers. The European Commission and the ESA are now determined to invest in the development of hypersonic air travel, even if airlines and market watchers still fear the public wouldn’t be interested. Critics then and now insist that flying isn’t just about speed, but more about comfort and convenience, two words that are rarely used to describe the harrowing experience of getting on a plane in the year 2012.