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"Son of Concorde" to fly London-to-Sydney in 4 hours?


June 28, 2012

Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Gulfstream are said to be developing a successor to Concorde, pictured, that could fly from London to Sydney in four hours (Photo: James Gordon)

Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Gulfstream are said to be developing a successor to Concorde, pictured, that could fly from London to Sydney in four hours (Photo: James Gordon)

Recent days have seen reports emerge of a successor to Concorde capable of speeds of over 2,485 mph (4,000 km/h) that could fly from London to Sydney in a mere four hours.

Though very little is known for certain, a joint announcement from aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin along with business-jet specialists Gulfstream is expected at the imminent Farnborough Air Show, suggesting a collaborative effort between the three corporations. NASA is also said to be offering its assistance.

If accurate, the reported speed would make the supersonic jet, said to be called X-54, almost twice as fast as Concorde. Concorde hasn't flown since its retirement in 2003.

Reports assert that the three companies claim to be close to cracking the problem of the sonic boom, with an engineer purportedly describing the sound the new jet would make as "closer to a puff or plop." It'll be interesting to see if the X-54's eventual design bears any similarity to previously touted noise reduction measures such as v-tails and biplane wings.

It's far from clear who this information comes from, or when and where it emerged. However, Gizmag will be on the ground at the Farnborough Airshow, so if an announcement on a spiritual successor to Concorde is made, we'll be sure to bring you what we know.

Source: The Australian

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

I always thought that speed should ba a goal for airlines, and loved the Concord idea. There just hasn't been much effort put into speed...safety, elegance, efficiency, yes. There are a lot of places i would like to see on our planet, but can't see myself sitting still for the better part of a day trying to get there. Maybe if every new plane was made faster we could give our grand children a better travel legacy.

John Parkes

I wonder whether they'll be using Reaction Engines? Hope so ...

Will McNeill

@ Mr. Parkes... no matter how fast you make something, there is always someone who will say that it's not fast enough. Once this thing is in the air, there will be people complaining and saying that they hate spending 3 hours of their day just to get to Paris. It wasn't that may years ago when it would take a week to go overseas, or go from New York to LA.


I wonder how big the new plane will be? There was always a market for the Concorde, but it was always a relatively small luxury niche market.

I'm wondering if something relatively small might not be a better fit. Shrinking the plane should also reduce the noise issues somewhat.

Jon A.

Why did the last concorde fail? Price. Tickets were prohibitively expensive to sit in a cramped supersonic metal tube. I dont see concorde two being any different. 4000kmh were would you put all the fuel? Ultrasonic planes also have another issue - any tiny failure in almost any component equals instant tiny little pieces of disaster. It would be safer going suborbital and waiting for the planet to bring you your destination.


Why is there this persistent myth that Concorde 'failed'? Concorde actually made a profit for much of its 27 year career, it broke even half-empty! It was just a low-volume premium product with a restricted market due to public fear of the sonic boom - had a US competitor to Concorde actually come to fruition and had the Oklahoma City sonic boom tests not been managed so disastrously then supersonic travel would be commonplace today.

Sadly the US aerospace industry dropped the ball on this one - they couldn't keep up with the pace so they barred the world's most technologically advanced airliner from flying in their airspace at the speeds it was designed to, but it's high time that we try again! Why is it that modern engineers with advanced CAD, finite element analysis, aerodynamic and thermodynamic simulation tools cannot reproduce what men with slide rules and pencils did 50 years ago?

It is an extremely frustrating time to be an aerospace engineer - I am looking forward with great anticipation to whatever announcement may be coming from Farnborough regarding future supersonic joint ventures.


If we could get to the Moon in the sixties, I'm sure that, now, half a century later we'll be able to make something that will go twice as fast as Concorde. Safety is a relative thing, flying is the safest way to travel, but some still get splattered across the countryside in the process. Losing it at 4000 km/h will be much more spectacular than at a mundane 800 km/h, so if your number is up while you are flying, the fast way is worth every extra penny you spent on the ticket, as you will never need what is left in your bankaccount. As for the impatient ones amongst us, try to imagine travelling in the 19th century.


Virgin Galactic suborbital airliner, now that's the ticket!

Billy Brooks

Nobody needs a fast trip to Australia. They just need a comfortable one at a sensible hour. We all need to sleep - so we should lie down in one place, and wake up in the next, and the airlines should grow a brain and figure out that fast is utterly pointless when airport security and checkins eat up so much time anyhow.

Embrace the delay, and stop making us try to sleep upright with our knees stuck in our chins!!

Heck - even the cheapest lame long-distance BUS fares in China give everyone a lie-down seat - have done for decades.

Air design just needs to move the same weight of people, inside a package that's bigger - that's all. It will not take more fuel to fly something twice as long... so just design for comfort instead!


The Concorde failed because at Mach 2 you burn 4X as much fuel and carry 1/4 as many passengers as a 747 (and it's successors). Going faster than the speed of sound is expensive. For those of you mildly interested in the economics of transportation, I recommend "the Simple Science of Flight" by Hank Tennekes, 1st edition. Chapter 7 discuses the economics of travel (rail, ship, airplane) and why the 747 was the roaring success it was as opposed to the Concorde. The chapter also discusses design constraints such as why it is most economical to fly at mach .85 , why 30,000' is the proper altitude, etc. The book is well written and used copies are available on Amazon.com The only thing technical in the chapter is the author's use of the term Finesse which is the lift/drag ratio.

Steve Jasik

christopher perfectly said. it's astonishing the airline industry doesn't understand what you have well understood. passengers would prefer longer flights if they were more comfortable and could spend their time sleeping.


Price was not the only reason why Concorde failed - did not actually fail as such. Transatlantic flight were always full. I remember the days when all the American aircraft manufacturers - including 2 of the 3 named in the article were in the competition for supersonic transport and failed to come up with even a half way decent concept. They managed to get the congress to limit landing rights for the Concorde's to a single airport and block overflight of US out of sheer spite. Many Asian counties, including mine, i.e. India, succumbed to US pressure and blocked overflights making Concorde more expensive to operate. It was only allowed to fly over the sea on its way to Singapore and onwards to Australia. Otherwise someone please explain to me how would a plane already flying at Mach 2.0 and more than 50,000 feet above the sea level affect anyone or anything on the ground when there are no sonic booms to contend with ?


If you folks, (particularly John Hemmingway Parkes) cared enough about the environment we are leaving for our kids, you would be shouting for slower flights that use less fuel. Say limit the speed to three hundred miles per hour? Huge fuel savings would result. Well said Christopher!


One of the other reasons that Concorde failed was that it didn't have enough fuel for trans-Pacific flights. If that route had been possible, I think that we would still have Concorde and similar planes in the air.

Jeff King

@ foghorn - limiting speeds to 300mph would result in huge fuel savings? You realize that, at the high altitudes where the best fuel efficiency is found, you have to go FAST just to stay up in the air. Go and read up on 'coffin corner', as you get higher your stall speed increases, but your indicated air speed decreases and the speed of sound decreases, resulting in both a maximum and a minimum speed limit. Please can we let physics set the speed limits, rather than the government?


Love 2 see flights from LA to London Or Lisbon to Dubai, Tokyo to Kona, Manila to Seattle etc runs alone & Cargo model.

Stephen Russell

The Concord suffered from bad design. Delta wings are massively inefficient for takeoffs and landings unless you can use high lift devices (flaps and slats) this requires a separate horizontal stabilizer that includes elevator control. ..........................................................................................................................

re; christopher

The idea that everyone is going to sleep well enough to matter is ludicrous, I would rather be in cattle car class for four hours rather than laying in a bed that's too hard or too soft for eight hours. ...........................................................................................................................

re; foghorn

In flying, higher and faster is actually more efficient because of the air getting thinner, and doubling the speed does not require doubling the rate of fuel consumption (assuming of course that the plane is designed to cruse at the higher speed) but it cuts the time of consumption in half.


I see bifurcation in the air market: those who want to get there comfortably, scenically, affordably, and those who want to get there as quickly as possible, damn the price. The first can be filled by zeppelins. The second can be filled by supersonic craft. For most people who currently fly coach, getting there overnight via airship while having a place to sleep is fine. For those who fly business class or better, and upon whom airlines depend for their margins, the supersonic option would be best.


The nr of people travelling by air is increasing dramatically. What we need is more efficient planes, not faster ones. More issues can be resolved on the ground to speed up air travel without making planes faster (which mostly result in increased fuel use - the exact opposite of what we need).

At the end of the day it's about the economics. But drool on.


I loved Concorde and TU-144, but this is an old technology. The world needs something new. This is like biofulel replacing diesel... Maybe a plane to neutralize the magnetic shield of earth and to fly with minimum of fuel and friction...

Iosif Olimpiu

To be fair, Concorde did fail, but only once. That was on take off from Paris on 25 July 2000, and that failure was caused by debris from an American built aircraft operated by an American airline. Boeing's attempt to build a competitor to Concorde, the 2707, was abandoned before the prototypes had been completed, allegedly as a result of an absence of a defined market. Amazing that someone failed to realise that you sold aircraft to airlines. For the fist time in my life I may find myself regretting the loss of the British Empire. It would be so fitting to see the X-54, or whatever it is eventually called, refused permission to overfly any of those parts of the world that used to be coloured pink on maps. Even more fitting to see it limited to one airport in all that area.


What's the point flying between point A and point B in 4 hours when you're still going to need to spend 3 hours in the airport before you leave and another 3 hours when you arrive!


Very fast planes, pricey tickets, reach there at 2AM in the morning nothing to do fly LA and then come back to outback you are only wasting fuel, money and mostly your time. thank god i don't have that kind aspirations or the money to burn at 50,000ft at mach 2.0. Those who have the money, enjoy.

Vijay Kamat

@Steve Jasik....Amen!!


My grandmother rode one of the last concorde flights (no idea why). But I'd love to see it come back. Anything that puts an end to connections/hubs/layovers/ANY of that stress is worth the $,R,&D. Plus faster is always better. It's faster in the least.

Awesome covering the bases, Slowburn; as always you comment other people's comments right out of the sky. Thinner air burns less fuel, but lifts the jet less, making you gas it harder, all evens out until you're pushing the limits on either end. Faster, longer, higher, let's do it.


Nostradamus predicted the "wave".....wingless air vehicle. The introduction is traumatic because it is superior.

Stewart Mitchell

I've travelled anually from the UK to Sydney since the sixties. Nothing has changed, sure the aircraft are slightly faster but the little time gained is eaten up by the extra processing time due to increased passenger load. It took minimum 24hrs then and it still takes a minimum 24 hours, as much as 48 hrs with multiple stops. Flying must be the only mode of transport that has stood still in terms of time and speed overbthe last half century. Believe me we dont want more comfortable planes we just want to arrive quicker. And yes I still dread that flight.


I have a large picture on my wall depicting a Braniff Lockheed Vega. Caption is:"Graniff Airways. World's fastest airline. Nw York to the Gulf in one day".

Roger Duncan

Suborbital gets ½ way round the world, the maximum necessary distance, in 45 minutes. Airport processing is the longest part of the process. The TSA is the main drag on air travel, in terms of time, incompetence, and unpleasantness.

Brian H

I was on the Concord 1 /1/2000 I had New years in Paris and New York City. A wonderful time. The closet to outer space I will ever get and the trip was over too fast. I am very happy it is comming back.

Kevinpaul Moore

Lots of people here seem to be complaining about the ever-hungry quest for speed, and saying that subsonic planes are all that will ever be required.

I assume these same people would travel from LA to New York by rail, or in a Toyota Prius, rather than an unnecessarily fast and uneconomical Boeing 757?


I admit I skimmed through it, If it's quieter and fuel effient and hopfully affordable with in the next few years after commercial use starts, than it's an awesome idea.


Concorde didn't fail. The Concorde planes were run by 2 airlines, BA and Air France. BA ran at a profit and Air France didn't. After the Air France Concorde crash, the French Concorde lost even more money. Unfortunately, the planes were serviced by the French and they told BA that they would stop their flights and dump all the servicing costs onto BA, effectively killing the plane.

Retta Hutahaean

What can go fast has to be accelerated and decelerated requiring a lot of energy and poluting our atmosphere. I think in this age of improving fast INFORMATION COMUNICATION there is hardly any need left for us to toss ourselves across the globe. This craze of moving faster and faster is not a requirement now. I think there is much need to slow down than to beam ourselves from one place to the other. The ipads and iphones are doing it and will be doing it much better. I bet......any attempt to travel at such mega speeds will never become an economic success.

Waqar Haider Bokhari

Here are a couple of images of it: http://v-serv.com/usr/fx.htm

U.s. Rockets

I must say that most people on these comments spend FAR more time in automobile traffic congestion than in aircraft or airports.

Why don't we have practical flying cars in widespread usage? Probably because people are too lazy and would rather whine than do something about it.

Why do you whine so much about a few hours in a plane?

Most of you spend too much of your life in front of TV screens&monitors- what's another few hours behind one?

I think most that want to go fast will just whine about the high price once they can and most that want to fly cheaper "and cleaner"(mistakenly) will whine about it taking too long if that was to happen...


@ Waqar Haider Bokhari - those pictures are AWESOME and really scary! I would not like to be that far from the earth! I think, though, for all those people who would love to go into space (my 4 year old included!) they will offer a great experience. I'd better get saving now for his 21st!

Rosie Crocker

What I love is the variety of thoughts expressed.

Let those who want to push limits, do so.

Then let the open market decide if it was worthwhile.

I hate to see any attempt to improve or innovate squelched.

There are many more things that can be done for the environment but we won't do all of them because of the sacrifice to us in society.

Despite that, we (not all, but many countries) have improved our environmental policies significantly through the years.

Bryan Haslett
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