Hypersonic plane ambition: Beijing to New York in 2 hours?

Updated 2018-02-24 09:52:01

A startling hypersonic plane design has been revealed by Chinese research team that can take passengers and cargo from Beijing to New York in just two hours. Yes, you read that right. It will be one-seventh of the time that presently it takes to travel between the two cities on a plane.

The aircraft, designed by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, has two sets of wings. It could journey in hypersonic pace at more than 3,700mph, meaning at more than 6,000km/h, faster than five times the speed of sound.

"It will take only a few hours to travel from Beijing to New York at hypersonic speed," team leader Cui Kai said in a paper this month in the journal Physics, Mechanics and Astronomy, revealed by Science China Press.

Dubbed the "I-plane," the South China Morning Post gives more details about this futuristic vehicle. The new aircraft has a biplane group structure, viewed from the front, looks like a capital "I," which will be able to handle significantly heavier payloads than existing hypersonic vehicles that have a streamlined shape and delta wings.

However, that high speed comes at a price. Under the same size as a Boeing 737, the futuristic plane will only be able to carry about one-fourth as much cargo and passengers: about 50 passengers and five tons of cargo versus the 737's 200-passenger capacity and 20-ton cargo carrying ability.

The team has reportedly tested out a scaled-down "I-plane" in specially designed wind tunnels, stating that it performed well at seven times the speed of sound  –  more than 8,600 km/h.

China has tested various types of hypersonic vehicles over the Gobi Desert in recent years, some capable of reaching 10 times the speed of sound, the paper said.

Similar news came in October 2016 of a supersonic jet dubbed "Son of Concorde," which could take people from London to New York in just three hours, and Boom Supersonic that would enable faster transportation from Dubai to London in just four and a half hours in November 2017.

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