Long flights across the country may soon become a lot more manageable.
It's been more than 10 years since any of the supersonic Concorde planes made their last flights, but a new group of supersonic jets is currently in development to make super-fast travel a reality again.
One of those, pictured above, is the futuristic N+2 jet, under development by Lockheed Martin. The N+2 is designed to carry roughly 80 commercial passengers at extremely fast speeds, enough to cut the travel time between New York and Los Angeles from seven or eight hours all the way down to just two and a half. Now that's fast.
Because the the N+2 will be traveling at such high speeds, in order to cut down on that nasty sonic boom, the plane's engines have "a tri-jet configuration in which one engine is on top of the aircraft and the other two are under each wing," reports the Daily Mail.
"To achieve revolutionary reductions in supersonic transportation airport noise, a totally new kind of propulsion system is being developed," NASA N+2 program manager Michael Buonanno told the Daily Mail. "We are also exploring new techniques for low noise jet exhaust, integrated fan noise suppression, airframe noise suppression and computer customized airport noise abatement."
Along with Lockhead Martin, aircraft manufacturer Airbus is teaming up with the Aerospace firm Aerion to develop a line of supersonic jets that can fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo in six hours (usually 12 hours) and from London to New York in an astounding three (usually eight).
Using something called "supersonic laminar flow technology," Aerion's AS2 business jet will fly at 1,217 mph, just shy of the Concorde's 1,350 mph, but still well above the average commercial flight speed of around 500 mph. Plus, it looks very cool:
Of course, seriously fast speeds and a serious cool factor come with a serious price tag: over $100 million, which, considering the AS2 will be built for mostly private use, isn't exactly the most accessible. Aerion hopes to begin test flights by 2019.
Nevertheless, despite high price tags and far-off production dates, the fact that more research and effort is being put into realistic and commercial-use supersonic jets is enough to get any frequent flyer excited.