EADS, the parent company of Airbus, is to unveil plans for a “hypersonic” plane that can fly twice the speed of Concorde on biofuel made from seaweed, and takes less than 90 minutes to fly from Paris to New York.
The 3,125 mph jet known as ZEHST, standing for Zero Emission Hypersonic Transportation, will transport up to 100 passengers at more than four times the speed of sound, with a cruising altitude of 20 miles above the Earth – just outside its atmosphere.
A 16ft replica of the plane, which is being built in collaboration with Japanese engineers, will be inspected by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at Le Bourget airport in Paris.
It will take just 90 minutes to fly from Paris to New York, compared to three and a half hours for Concorde and almost eight hours in a normal passenger jet. Paris to Toyko could be completed in under two and a half hours.
EADS expects ZEHST’s first commercial flight to take place in 2050, with the first non-manned test flight scheduled for 2020.
According to Le Parisien newspaper, the jet will be almost totally environmentally “clean” by using a mixture of biofuel, hydrogen and water. Most of what little pollution it emits will remain in space.
It will initially target business passengers willing to pay the same price as a Concorde.