Airbus patents hypersonic jet that could fly four and a half times the speed of sound

By midian182 ยท 24 replies
Aug 4, 2015
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  1. European aerospace manufacturer Airbus has secured a new patent for an “ultra-rapid air vehicle” that the company says could travel over four and a half times faster than the speed of sound. This would allow the jet to travel from London to New York in just one hour instead of the 7 to 8 hours it takes a conventional airliner to cross the Atlantic.

    The patent describes the craft as "an air vehicle including a fuselage, a gothic delta wing distributed on either side of the fuselage, and a system of motors able to propel the air vehicle." The jet uses three hydrogen-powered engines that work in sequential order to allow the vehicle to reach speeds of 3425 mph.

    The craft will use two turbojets mounted under the fuselage to get off the ground. As it lifts off the runway, the jet will climb vertically until it nears the speed of sound. At this point, the turbojets will shut down and retract into the fuselage, leaving the rocket motor to take it up to an altitude of 100,000 feet. Once the Airbus reaches its cruising altitude, the rocket motor will shut down and retract into the plane. The wing-mounted ramjets would then take control to push the jet to its final speed of Mach 4.5.

    Airbus says it has designed the craft’s aerodynamics to limit sonic boom and noise pollution. The now retired Mach 2 Concorde was prevented from operating over land due to complaints over sonic booms. Even at subsonic speeds, Concorde was much louder than other planes.

    Airbus believes the jet could have military applications, allowing soldiers, equipment or weaponry to be transported great distances at speeds not possible using today’s aircraft. The company has also proposed a variant armed with high-power electromagnetic pulse weapons to conduct precision strikes on high-value targets.

    The number of passengers on the aircraft will be limited to 20, meaning tickets for commercial flights are likely to be very expensive. "In the case of civil applications, the market envisaged is principally that of business travel and VIP passengers, who require transcontinental return journeys within one day," the patent states.

    Deepak Gupta, owner of PatentYogi, explained that the new Airbus could make it possible to complete trips like Paris to San Francisco or Tokyo to Los Angeles in just three hours. For more information from Patent Yogi regarding the jet, see the video below.

    Permalink to story.

  2. EEatGDL

    EEatGDL TS Evangelist Posts: 568   +241

    I don't know if many will find a vertical climb pleasant, to me it's cool anyway.
    AnonymousSurfer likes this.
  3. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    Looks like a flying dildo.
  4. Tannim

    Tannim TS Rookie

    What's not mentioned is the G forces involved in the operation, and how that would affect normal passengers. Plus, at those accelerations through the atmospheric levels, including varying levels of moisture and air density, you're dealing with a tremendous amount of airframe stress and gradual corrosion.

    Those type of details make production and airworthiness major issues, not to be resolved anytime soon.

    Call this one a fantasy plane for the immediate and medium-range future.
  5. Xclusiveitalian

    Xclusiveitalian TS Evangelist Posts: 714   +75

    It would be awesome but I don't know if this could ever work. At those speeds you really can't maneuver, even an autopilot system would prob have trouble pulling off a proper maneuver at those speeds, it could tangent off in a bad direction and dart into the ground or sky and hit a stall. They would also have to be pretty high not to blow out windows on the ground. There is also the problem that it can hit another plane who will have barely any time to avoid this bullet.
  6. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +902

    It all depends on how brave you are.
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,974   +2,527

    Well, if anyone has ever read the difficulties associated with even tri-sonic flight, as in the SR-71, they'd quickly realize most of the wind under this contraption's wings, is the hot air from Airbus executives.

    Since at the time of of its retirement it is said the cost was about $50.000 just to start the Sr-71's engines, one shudders to think what a ticket would cost on this beast.

    One has to presume, even the wealthiest execs, have enough common sense to use Skype, in lieu of paying to ride in that. Skype has a better safety record than multi-sonic transport as well.

    This is mostly a bull crap promotion stunt, which now Airbus can use as a basis for patent trolling. Boeing goes to patent a multi-sonic transport, and all of a sudden, Airbus' lawyers show up. See how that works.

    For example, these would have to be really powerful turbo fans, to propel this fantasy straight up. When you consider an F-15 has to be unarmed, and only partially fueled, in combination with full afterburner, to fly vertical. (Those are the conditions necessary, for the thrust to weight ratio to be greater than 1:1). And remember kiddies, if thrust to weight isn't greater than 1:1, it's not going to go straight up.

    The typical takeoff for an SR-71, was done at half fuel capacity, followed by an in air refuel, then climb to altitude. Airbus of course, has worked out how to lift off vertically, with a full load of fuel for fan jets, rocket motors, and ramjets on board.

    The P&W J-58s which powered the craft, effectively became ramjets at cruise altitude. The were inlet "spikes" to control the multi sonic shock wave entering the engines. Sometimes they failed to do so, causing an "upstart", (flame out- then spontaneous restart), which caused a couple of crashes.

    Don't worry though, Airbus has got this all covered. But, if I didn't know better, I'd swear all this sh*t, came out of Elon Musk's mouth....

    Hey, maybe that's how all this will shake out. Airbus will build the plane, Apple will sue them claiming they have a patent for an aircraft with rounded corners, and Musk will claim it was his idea all along.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  8. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,663   +1,949

    I will take a convertible...
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  9. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,265   +436

    LMAO loved this one!

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,255   +454

    Three different sources of propulsion huh? I would think that it's going to have to be a lot bigger than that. Anyway, sounds too complicated.

    Hey, wasn't this in an Austin Powers movie? "Hey look, its a giant flying ****!"
  11. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    It's just patents they're filing, it doesn't mean to say it'll come to fruition anytime soon.
  12. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    Flying "straight up" is a party trick:

    Doing so with a couple of rockets is simply a matter of cost, which will no doubt be covered by $5,000 tickets... for back-of-the-bus coach.
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,974   +2,527

    OK, still not impressed. You just hold the unloaded, lightly fueled, aircraft on the runway a bit longer than normal, You get a crazy climb rate for a city block or so. The little old DC-9 flew like a fighter in its day too.No big deal. Rumor has it, when an F-14 "Tomcat" left the carrier, with full weapons and fuel, it was a "slug".
    They had to kill The Blue Angels' C-130 "Fat Albert" RATO takeoff due to running out of rockets and cost.

    In any case, this short video confronts all of the major issues encountered with merely tri-sonic flight: You're gonna love when the Triethylborane igniter gives off a massive green flash in the J-58's afterburners (It's the only way to get JB-7 to burn). :

    Note: The SR-71 pilots are wearing spacesuits, not business suits.

    Apparently, TEB was also used light light the Saturn-5 booster as well:

    OTOH, you could try strapping a giant triangular guitar pick to the top of this turd, and see if you could blast it into sub-orbital flight: [​IMG]

    I'll even color coordinate it for you: [​IMG]
    agb81 likes this.
  14. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    Materials physics has advanced considerably since the SR-71. It's also worth noting the military doesn't charge its cargo extra to cover operating expenses.

    If there's money in it, they'll find a way to make it work. The "how" isn't in the physics; it's in the demand curve.

    As for strapping a Dunlop pick to a space-bound vehicle... waste of a good product, if you ask me.
  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,974   +2,527

    Somethings never change, air density, gravity, lift and drag coefficients, not to mention the laws of physics. It's also worth noting the offsetting fact, the military doesn't care how much of a loss it operates with......:oops:

    That's patently not true. It's all too easy to envision a massive overestimation of demand, and a massive underestimation of cost. Especially for the sociopaths and megalomaniacs planning this extravaganza. If you want to know what is feasible, ask around at an aeronautical engineers convention. Although some of them are likely delusional as well.

    You know, if Elon Musk were to get enough investors, I'll bet he'd be able to make a battery powered version.

    I'm telling you, download this photo: :[​IMG] Then, open it up in Photoshop. Next, push a 180 degrees of hue shift into it. You'll be very much surprised how quick the Weinermobile with a guitar pick on top takes form.

    (I really can't believe our own site, is not letting me embed the article photo...:confused:

    It's also hard to imagine the US Patent office issuing patents without a working prototype. I guess they figure if they do it for Apple......
  16. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,372   +69

    Who really needs to go that fast? A regular jet makes ten thousand times the pollution of a car.
  17. drjekelmrhyde

    drjekelmrhyde TS Addict Posts: 249   +63

  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,974   +2,527

    Yeah well, nobody needs to go that fast or make that much noise, otherwise they would have continued and updated the Concord.program.

    And when you fire the afterburners, God only knows now many gallons per mile that's gonna take, or pollution it's gonna make....:eek:
  19. MarkHughes

    MarkHughes TS Addict Posts: 143   +73

    I think the company that should worry most about this patent is Reaction Engines Limited as they are in the process of building a single stage to orbit machine that they suggested could double as a multi mach passenger plane. This is not some dream on paper like the one in the article either, They have tested the engines and the rather important coolers and have funding to build a full scale test engine.

    Well worth a read if you haven't already.
  20. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 1,565   +713

    As NONE of us are able to REALLY discuss whether this is possible or not (if anyone here is actually an aerospace engineer, speak up), the question here comes down to - does this plane, as described, sound like something the world needs?

    I would say, "No"... clearly, this is a military plane - with a flimsy excuse for civilian use for "high powered executives".

    Do we really need (or want) our military able to reach distant locations that much faster? It's only for 20-30 people, so it's not like it replaces a Hercules - no tanks can be transported to Europe in an hour!!

    The cost will be exorbitant - but the problem is, military spending rarely cares... they NEED to keep spending on the military, as it employs lots of people and continues reinforcing to the populace that they are safe... How much profit do we see from an Apache Helicopter?

    Not to mention that this seems clearly designed for covert-ops... do we REALLY want to enable even more ways for our governments to deploy these? Not to mention that if they ever got into the "wrong" hands, we could be looking at terrorist attacks anywhere in the world pretty easily...

    When someone patents a way to get 200+ people from Toronto to Beijing in an hour, let me know :)
  21. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,974   +2,527

    Well, you actually don't have to be an aeronautical engineer to predict the hurdles and difficulties heretofore encountered before regarding multi-sonic flight, you simply need to be familiar with the solutions of the past.
    For you perhaps, that's the question, and for the most part, I agree.

    However, the overarching issue is, "why the hell is the US Patent office issuing patents, for what amounts to, a figment of the Airbus Corps' imagination?

    Multi-mach aircraft have been on the drawing boards for decades, but only 2 have had extended careers in the stratosphere. The SR-71, military tasked, and the Concorde, a civilian transport..Both were retired, old age and cost being cited. Oh, and in the case of the Concorde, people on the ground whining about noise.

    (The US Air Force should have sued for the Concorde, as it really is a knockoff of the XB-70, "Valkyrie". Droop nose and engine location included, salient even. Although, the XB-70 had a "six-pack" underneath, while the Concorde flew with only 4 after burning turbofans).

    First off, I seriously doubt if the Canadian Air Force would be able to afford them. If you've even seen, "The Snowbirds" aerobatic team, I think they're still flying modified trainers.

    How much in dollars and cents, (CAD of course), security can you afford, versus how much do you think you're entitled? It would be nice if the world were a safer place without the need for a military, but that's pretty much a children's fairy tale. And face it, the terrorists left alive after a drone strike, aren't going to reimburse you for the cost of the weapon.

    Why, you won't be able to afford it on a teacher's salary? Plus, without the Olympics, it's a marginal destination anyway.

    You know what I always say, "use an ICBM with an MX warhead, when it absolutely, positively, has to be there overnight"!
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
    agb81 likes this.
  22. infiltrator

    infiltrator TS Booster Posts: 164   +27

    I am sure the Airbus Engineers have that figured out. They could use differential thrust to maneuver the aircraft, or the same system as used in the Harrier Jumbo-jet to move around while in vertical take off.

    Now hitting another airplane would be very rare. There are system currently in place that keeps track of the airplanes's position in the air and alert the pilots of any potential collision.

    In addition, an airplane like this would have its own flight level assignment, so that it can fly at super-sonic speeds without colliding with any other air traffic.
  23. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,974   +2,527

    Yeah, this is a remarkably acute grasp of the obvious, since all air traffic operating in "class A airspace", (in excess of 18.000'), is under the jurisdiction of air traffic control, across the entire continental US, Alaska, and a ways out into the ocean.

    Class A
    Pilots operating an aircraft in Class A airspace must conduct
    that operation under IFR and only under an ATC clearance
    received prior to entering the airspace. Unless otherwise
    authorized by ATC, each aircraft operating in Class A
    airspace must be equipped with a two-way radio capable of
    communicating with ATC on a frequency assigned by ATC.
    Unless otherwise authorized by ATC, all aircraft within Class
    A airspace must be equipped with the appropriate transponder
    equipment meeting all applicable specifications found in 14
    CFR section 91.215

    ATC assigns a flight level and course to every aircraft entering this airspace. With that said, you probably don't have to worry about hitting a 747 at flight level 650..
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
  24. infiltrator

    infiltrator TS Booster Posts: 164   +27

    Even if you are flying outside controlled air space, it would still take a reasonable amount of time, for a 747 to reach its maximum service ceiling due to MTOW. So I don't see a collision happening at anytime soon. Flying nowadays has become very safe thanks to the technology advancements.
  25. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,974   +2,527

    Apparently then, neither you or any one else sees an inevitable collision.

    Where else would you fly this thing BUT in controlled airspace? From the minute you fire the engines and begin to taxi, you're under terminal control. You're assigned a course for your ascent.

    I only remarked about, "hitting a 747", as a joke. Current commercial airliners don't fly too much above 40.000'. Hence, there's no chance of hitting one if your flight path is at 60,000' or so.

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