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Airbus Patents Plane That Could Fly From Paris To Tokyo In Three Hours

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Airbus has won a patent for a hypersonic passenger plane, but Concorde’s hydrogen-powered successor is unlikely to leave the drawing board any time soon.

The proposed aeroplane would cut the journey time from Paris to Tokyo from 12 to under three hours. The idea, first published in 2011, is to use three different kinds of engine power to jump above the atmosphere while still using regular runways for takeoff. It has now won approval from the US Patent Office.

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The concept comes as commercial space companies such as Virgin Galactic pursue plans for low-level space flights. Airbus’s proposed plane has “gothic delta wings” that echo the elegant curves of Concorde.

But Airbus dampened any hopes of a quick return to the days of the Anglo-French supersonic jet, which was taken out of service in 2003 owing to high operating costs.

“Airbus Group and its divisions apply for hundreds of patents every year in order to protect intellectual property,” a spokesman said. “These patents are often based on R&D concepts and ideas in a very nascent stage of conceptualisation, and not every patent progresses to becoming a fully realised technology or product.”

By climbing almost vertically, the new “ultra-rapid air vehicle’s” designers hope to avoid the supersonic boom that hampered Concorde’s deployment beyond the North Atlantic, where it flew at twice the speed of sound for more than 20 years.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 11.46.59 AMThe hypersonic plane would take off using a regular jet engine, before rocket boosters kick in to start a sharp ascent, sending the plane soaring above the atmosphere.

Ramjet engines, currently used in missiles, would then take the plane up to altitudes of about 18 miles (30km) as the plane cruises at speeds up to mach 4.5 (a bout 3,400 mph), or 4.5 times the speed of sound. The turbojets would reignite to enable landing.

Announcing a similar proposal in 2011, Airbus Group, then known as EADS, said it would take 30-40 years to enter service, if at all. But the patent is designed to put down a marker for technology that could be useful in other developments.

Airbus says it is working on two hypersonic projects, one with Japanese partners and another with Russian and Australian involvement, with the aim of conquering speeds up to mach 6.

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“Airbus Patents Plane That Could Fly From Paris To Tokyo In Three Hours”