Virgin Galactic announced its plans to collaborate with Rolls-Royce to build a high-speed commercial aircraft that would fly at three times the speed of sound. The Mach 3 plane will use state-of-the-art sustainable aviation fuel.
Virgin Galactic, which has been in the news for building an aircraft, which will take passengers to space, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Rolls-Royce to develop engine propulsion technology for the new aircraft.
The supersonic aircraft will focus on customer experience and sustainability, setting a new benchmark for the aviation industry
While unveiling the initial design, the company noted that it has received authorisation from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation to outline a certification framework.
“We are excited to complete the Mission Concept Review and unveil this initial design concept of a high-speed aircraft, which we envision as blending safe and reliable commercial travel with an unrivalled customer experience We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high-speed travel,” commented George Whitesides, Chief Space Officer, Virgin Galactic in a press release.
The Mach 3 delta-wing aircraft would have the capacity to accommodate 9 to 19 people and will fly an altitude above 60,000 feet ‒ double the current levels of a commercial flight. The cabins can also customised to address commercial needs such as Business or First Class seating arrangements.
“We are excited to partner with Virgin Galactic and TSC to explore the future of sustainable high-speed flight,” said Rolls-Royce North America Chairman & CEO Tom Bell. “Rolls-Royce brings a unique history in high-speed propulsion, going back to the Concorde, and offers world-class technical capabilities to develop and field the advanced propulsion systems needed to power commercially available high-Mach travel.”
The team will proceed with defining specific system architectures and configurations. They will also work to address key challenges in thermal management, maintenance, noise, emissions, and economics that routine high-speed commercial flights would entail.
The plane would take off and land like any other passenger aircraft from airports around the world.