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Airbus patents hypersonic aircraft

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Member
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 944
Technically interesting article about a new aircraft design:

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/aug/05/airbus-patents-hypersonic-plane-paris-tokyo-three-hours?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

It is projected to become available 30-40 years in the future. I suspect that the cost per passenger mile will once again make such an aircraft uneconomical vs large-capacity ordinary airliners. However, it sounds like a lot of fun to fly!

Excerpts:

The hypersonic plane would take off using a regular jet engine, before rocket boosters kick in to start a sharp ascent, sending the plane soaring above the atmosphere.

Ramjet engines, currently used in missiles, would then take the plane up to altitudes of about 18 miles (30km) as the plane cruises at speeds up to mach 4.5 (a bout 3,400 mph), or 4.5 times the speed of sound. The turbojets would reignite to enable landing.

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On a slightly related note, I was a passenger on a Concorde from New York to Heathrow in the early 1990s and found the experience to be novel but physically very uncomfortable (*extremely* noisy, uncomfortably small seats, claustrophobic feeling due to its tiny windows). I was disappointed that one could not tell when Mach 1 or Mach 2 was passed except by watching the passenger cabin meter. I watched too many movies from the 1950s showing a very noticeable "sound barrier". Presumably the early supersonic aircraft had issues "crossing the sound barrier".

Wikipedia has a nice article on the Concorde: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concorde
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Best wishes,

Phil Bunch
Member
Registered: May 2010
Posts: 843
More on the design:

http://www.cbc.ca/m/news/technology/airbus-patents-supersonic-plane-that-could-hit-mach-4-5-1.3178955
Member
Registered: Oct 2014
Posts: 341
Quote
Presumably the early supersonic aircraft had issues "crossing the sound barrier".

Concorde had problems too, so they designed powerful propulsion to just brute-force through the high drag regime. :D Many supersonic aircraft actually required a slight dive, or the pilot to push zero g before they would accelerate beyond M 1.2 or so, and up to higher Mach numbers.

SR-71 had very specific parameters for the dive phase, losing about 7000 ft in the process, to reach Mach 1.3, and be fast enough to climb and accelerate!
Member
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 149
Re: "sound barrier"

Yes - my limited understanding of aerodynamics is that the 'barrier' was basically the trans-sonic regime which effectively tore the aircraft apart - still a place where rockets etc encounter 'max dynamic pressure' and most frequently fail (e.g. latest SpaceX and commercial space failures). You would really not have wanted to notice this on Concorde. I think the last couple generations of supersonic fighters had the requirement specifically to cross Mach 1 in level flight.

Cheers,
Torrence

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