It has always been a childhood dream to board a Concorde and my dream could very well come true. Last week, Virgin Galactic unveiled the design of a Mach 3 aircraft for high-speed travel featuring Rolls-Royce engine propulsion technology. This marks an exciting step forward in Virgin Galactic’s development of a new generation of high-speed aircraft, in partnership with industry and government leaders, with a focus on customer experience and environmental sustainability.
The design philosophy of the aircraft is geared around making high speed travel practical, sustainable, safe, and reliable, while making the customer experience a top priority. Virgin Galactic is designing the aircraft for a range of operational scenarios, including service for passengers on long-distance commercial aviation routes. The aircraft would take off and land like any other passenger aircraft and be expected to integrate into existing airport infrastructure and international airspace around the world.
“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 unrivaled customer experience,” says George Whitesides, Chief Space Officer, Virgin Galactic. “We are pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls-Royce as we strive to develop sustainable, cutting-edge propulsion systems for the aircraft, and we are pleased to be working with the FAA to ensure our designs can make a practical impact from the start. We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high-speed travel.”
The basic parameters of the initial high-speed aircraft design include a targeted Mach 3 certified delta-wing aircraft that would have capacity for 9 to 19 people at an altitude above 60,000 feet and would also be able to incorporate custom cabin layouts to address customer needs, including Business or First Class seating arrangements. The aircraft design also aims to help lead the way toward use of state-of-the-art sustainable aviation fuel. Baselining sustainable technologies and techniques into the aircraft design early on is expected to also act as a catalyst to adoption in the rest of the aviation community.