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New hypersonic plane proposes ultimate air travel boost

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A proposed hypersonic plane that can travel nearly 3,000 mph could thrill travelers and hull and liability insurers alike.

A patent has been approved for the Airbus-designed plane that would fly at over four times the speed of sound, news reports said.

Airbus describes the plane as an “ultra-rapid air vehicle and related method of aerial locomotion.” The new plane would be more than twice as fast as the now-retired Concorde, of which only 14 were ever used by business. VIPs used the Concorde to quickly travel from one continent to another.

The Blagnac, France-based aircraft manufacturer believes business travelers would use the new plane, as it has the potential to fly from New York to London in an hour. Airbus thinks the hypersonic jet would also complete trips like Paris to San Francisco or Tokyo to Los Angeles in three hours.

The patent describes the aircraft’s travel as a “method of aerial locomotion,” with power coming from three different types of engines: a retractable jet engine, ramjets that use the forward speed of the aircraft to compress the air entering them before it is mixed with fuel and ignited, and a rocket engine that uses hydrogen and oxygen.

The combination of rocket and jet power will cause a “near vertical ascent,” similar to the Space Shuttle.

One of the complaints for the Concorde was how loud the turbojet engines were, which was why it wasn’t allowed to fly over land. According to Airbus, the new plane is designed to limit and reduce the sonic boom it will create when it reaches supersonic speed.