We all as kids used to tie a towel around our neck and pretend to blast off into the sky but end up only jumping down from our bed. Superman those days did not have competition but he soon will! As much as we super hero fans would hate for that to happen, The Man of steel is in queue to be beaten fair and square.
The first of two commercial Jets to break the sound barrier, also broke hearts of aero enthusiasts around the world when it became limited to museums- The ban of the Concorde. Now commercial flight manufacturing giant- Airbus has come to the rescue with a patent called the Concorde 2, the son of the mighty Concorde who thundered the open skies till 2003. Although the complex flight can carry only 20 on board or 2 to 3 tonnes of cargo, which is very less compared to capacity of 120 of the Concorde, the Concorde 2 is said to be twice as fast as Concorde ; it could take a little over 3600 seconds for you to travel from London to New York. Now will this son make the mighty Concorde proud?
The speed of an airplane is denoted by a non-dimensional number called a Mach number. It is the ratio of the speed of the vehicle to the speed of sound at that altitude. Quite simple. The speed regimes are classified based on the Mach number. Subsonic category falls within Mach 1 and Transonic is in the range of 0.8 to 1.3. Above 1 till 5 we call it Supersonic and above 5 its Hypersonic. The Concorde 2 is set to fly at Mach 4 thus in the supersonic regime. Just for a comparison, the average transcontinental flight you take goes at Mach 0.83. Doesn’t sound fast does it?
So what exactly does happen in the supersonic regime? Well for a start, you will be travelling first and the sound produced will be 4 times slower and the so called shock wave will be behind us. When an air molecule is encountered with such a huge aircraft at such high velocities it just doesn’t know what to do and it forms a shock wave, leading to huge increase of pressure and temperature. The Concorde 2’s aerodynamic design is such that it will avoid all such adversaries and still fly.
The peculiar thing would be is that this aircraft would be having a total of 4 engines to power it. During take-off the two turbojet engines that are situated below the body will propel the aircraft and provide necessary thrust. These engines will later retract into the body of the fuselage and the two rocket engines will be ignited. It is during this phase the Concorde is will fly almost vertically to a height of 100,000 ft. above sea level. Dad-The Great Concorde used to fly at 60,000 ft. and the flight you normally take is 30,000 ft. Oh! Almost forgot, you would not be sitting facing the aircraft’s direction. Design Engineers are making sure the 20 in the flight are comfortable during all phases and so the seats will be facing sideways.
The rocket engine will soon die out of propellant and this is when we have our two ramjets to take care of us for the rest of the journey. Airbus has come up with the concept of a high wing delta wing which is not much of in use now. The aerodynamic influence this configuration can give is quite a surprise.
Just before you book yourself a ticket, let me warn you. As of 2003, the to and fro price for Concorde London to New York was GBP 7500 per person. So all the 100-120 on board pay this amount. Concorde 2 has only 20 people and is 2 times faster than the Concorde and could be infinity times faster in burning a hole in your pocket. This tech is likely to be used by the defence but I am sure there are some of us who can afford to fly in it. For those who do, just make sure you give the winning smirk when you overtake Superman.