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back to article Hypersonic hydrogen airliner to bitchslap Concorde

The European Union (EU) has agreed further funding for a European civil hypersonics project whose goal is to achieve passenger flights from Brussels to Sydney in "two to four hours", at speeds of Mach 4 to 8. The now-retired Concorde was capable of only a little better than Mach 2. The first phase of the so-called Long-term …

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Joke

Why is it that?

Future aircraft designs always closely resemble something out of Captain Scarlet?

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Black Helicopters

I'm sure that the Americans

...will find a way to stop this making any money. Too dangerous to land at a US airport, probably. A Boeing version, on the other hand...

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Alert

I'll be home a little late dear.....

....just popping across to Sydney for lunch.

Just think - it will take you longer to get to the airport than it will to fly halfway round the world!

It'll be nice (probably) if it happens. Though one wonders whether it is technically feasible. Mach 5 is almost twice as fast as current spy planes I believe. And if a terrorist takes this baby over you can't shoot it down because no missiles fly that fast, shirley?

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Super Hypersonic International Transport?

Er, perhaps not.

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Coat

4 and a half hours eh

So it will take just 4 and a half hours to get from the gate at Heathrow to the sunny shores of Bondai Beach.

As is typical with the good old british (spanish owned) arports it will take just as long from check in to duty free. Assuming that bottle of coke is chucked so you can by a new shiny double-the-price one on the other side.

Thats before good old Gordon finds a way of taxing it to a less restrictive country - say China.

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Anonymous Coward

Jeff Tracy is on standby .....

Looks like the plane that featured in the first ever Thunderbirds episode - 'Trapped In The Sky' - featuring an atomic powered airliner. Please tell us it's really hydrogen that's powering this and not some of Windscale's spare Plutonium!

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Alien

Why is it also that

Gerry Anderson got there first not only with Mark's Captain Scarlet look-a-like but more like Thunderbird's Fireflash

A notable point about that first episode was that there was some in-flight espionage aimed at bringing down Fireflash with bombs planted by 'The Hood', an amazingly arabic looking chappie.

Did Gerry Anderson tell the future again?

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Time

Cor, transatlantic flights could take less time than the airport check-in.

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@ Mark

Because vehicles in Captain Scarlet were designed by traveling to the future and observing aircraft design.

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Wrong Shape

IANAAD (I am not an aero-dynamicist) but surely the plane in that picture is the wrong shape, IIRC super sonic planes should have the same cross sectional area throughout the body as much as possible, that one is shaped like a wedge.

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Anonymous Coward

Already done back in the '60's...

Is it my imagination, or is this baby reminiscent of the "Fireflash" airliner from Thunderbirds. Gerry Anderson ahead of his time again?

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Thats out of Thunderbirds

Its the Fireflash, from the pilot episode. Only that was driven by nuclear engines. I hope this one is more reliable.

http://www.thunderbirdsonline.co.uk/episodes/trapped/index.htm

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Energy source

They just need to setup a refueling stop in Iceland. Make the hydrogen there, since they have all that "Free" geothermal energy.

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10bn?

Flight International says 10m Euro. El Reg says 10bn. That's a big difference.

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Under Rule 8, I propose...

Quote:

"CHUTNEY (Civil Hypersonic Useful Technology Not Employable Yet)"

If the prototype explodes in a Hindenberg-like fireball will it be a LAPTOP (Longterm Advanced Propulsion Technology for Obliterating Passengers)?

Or (with a nod to its shape and energy) if it flies but makes huge losses (a la Concorde) it might be a DESKTOP (Dangerous but Environmentally Sound Kinetic Tube Operating Pointlessly)

PS *Stop* using 'bitchslap' all the time, vultures. Stop it. Now.

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Fireball XL5

Mark,

It's not Captain Scarlet, that's Fireball XL5 (another great Gerry Anderson adventure in SuperMarionation)!

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I don't know what's worse

I don't know what's worse, flying in a plane powered by a steam engine ("industrial hydrogen made by steam reforming with natural gas") or flying in a plane powered by a rubbish poor man's sports car from the 80's (Scimitar)....

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Hotol Mk II

'Ello, ello, ello, this looks vaguely familar - why it's a revamped version of lan Bond's Skylon which was a revamped version of Alan Bond's Hotol - the British space plane that was going to revolutionise travel in the 1980s.

The clever bit about Hotol was that its engine could be reconfigured in flight to switch from low-altitude air breathing to a true rocket. The not so clever bit about Hotol was that it was British and therefore doomed by lack of funding and vision.

Third time lucky folks?

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Where's the RoTM angle icon?

That's Fireflash, sorry image at http://thunderbirds.sfdaydreams.com/toys/kfelevcars2.jpg

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Tim

@Frank

By the time this is ready you'll need to provide a tissue sample just to be allowed to buy a ticket to the US.

The Far East (including China), India, Europe and Australia will provide a big enough market to support such a plane while the US slowly collapses inwards.

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Dead Vulture

What a STUPID headline ... Register sinks to Juvenile Quips

This headline only proves that the English language and creative literary writing is now only safe in the hands of Canada, US and India. Good work "buggering" journalism, "dim-brits". Grow up, it isn't cute.

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LAPCAT

do a little dance for me ;)

@Frank Bough, and after public funding, sell it to BA for £1

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@mark

I was actually thinking more of Firefly from Thunderbirds!!

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Coat

Scimitar engines!!

They are going to strap a 4-wheeled robin reliant to each wing for mach 4?

They must have advanced the timing a bit.

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Boffin

But why?

What am I missing here? Why do they make such a deal out of going subsonic while over populated areas? Ok I can understand people not wanting sonic booms while the plane is a few hundred feet up just after takeoff. But surely there's going to be 10,000 feet at least between the 'plane and the ground for most of the flight. Does it really make a difference on the ground how fast it's going?

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Joe
Stop

For Ashley - cost

The cost is €10bn. The €10m figure is the total tax on the €3000 ticket to Sydney. On the positive side most of us would only need a one way ticket.

By the time this gets off the ground (pun intended) the septics will have made something similar, licensed it the the military, then banned the use of this technology in their airspace by anyone else in the world because they can.

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Unhappy

Climate change

Nice to see that the EU isn't letting its eco-friendly policies get in the way of the development of an uncecessary technology that will only benefit the wealthy.

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@Colin Miller

Yup, notice the Sabre gets a mention too - thought I was the only plastic pig fan but now you've outed yourself I might as well join in. :)

(FYI, the 4-wheeled Reliant Robin-alike was the Kitten.)

Who'd have thought an old 3 litre Ford engine would find its way into a supersonic airliner? Hope they've done the unleaded conversion or it'll be a bit of a throwback.

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Alert

Yanks

So 4 1/2 hours to Australia. 4 1/2 days to the US.

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Heart

Style

Concorde still looks better, beautiful.

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Liquid Air Cycle Engine (LACE)

The engine concept being described is called LACE, Liquid Air Cycle Engine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_air_cycle_engine

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Black Helicopters

Another boondogle...

Look at the size comparison between the A380 and the A2... Already there are major airports not able to handle the 380, and they want to build a monstrosity as big as the A2, and call it commercially viable? Hah! Pull the other one - it's got bells on. No, it's just the EU government funnelling yet more money under the table into the airline industry. I swear they're *trying* to make it easy for Boeing to win its WTO complaint.

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@ A. Lewis

One would think that significant altitude would matter. However, on occasion the NASA space shuttle wings overhead during re-entry. It's a heckuva lot higher than 30,000 feet at that time and we still get the sonic boom.

I could be wrong, but I think the dynamics change at hypersonic speeds. Correction, anyone?

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Anonymous Coward

Similarities to B-58 Hustler and XB-70 Valkyrie

I know this is only an early mock-up, but I was immediately struck by the similarities in the delta wing and engine placement of this jet to an early 1950's American super-sonic nuclear bomber jet known as the Convair B-58 Hustler. It looks like a super-stretched version. Also the forward canard on the fuselage reminds me of the design of another supersonic long range nuclear bomber from the early 60's known as the XB-70 Valkyrie...an aircraft so far advanced in its day that portions of its techology are still classified.

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Thumb Up

Well, if they make it, it'll be a Good Thing overall.

Not so much because of the plane itself, although it will be nice to cut the time spent trapped in a metal tube with Cat Piss Man (who may or may not have showered before the filght, but you can't tell because the stink is so deeply ingrained), but because it'll drive development of the engines, which as mentioned will be usable for a nice SSTO reusable spaceplane...

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as Any Fule Kno

This A2 thingy is nowhere near as aerodymically 'ambitious' as the 'Fireflash' in Thunderbirds - no triple bank of 'atom engines' sat atop a Y-form tailplane.

Actually, this A2 thingy looks more like the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, which "gained a reputation as a 'flying coffin' and 'Witwenmacher' (Widowmaker) for their high accident rate. In Germany and Italy alone, more than 400 airplanes were lost in accidents" - bodes well!

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Fireflash has a more impressive tail!

Oooer missus, I just looked at that title again!

It does look like a Gerry Anderson rip off - I think he should sue!!!

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Unhappy

@ Tim Butterworth

Nice to see that you're not letting the article get in the way of some misinformed ranting.... (Hint: Runs on potentially zero-carbon hydrogen.)

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Paris Hilton

"bitchslap"

Is this the Paris Hilton angle, or am I just old-fashioned?

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the obvious question is...

is it suitable for the school run?

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Joke

Serious downside

I can see a very serious downside to being able to go from London to Sydney in 4.5 hours, it means we'll get even more Aussie and Kiwi bar tenders coming over and they'd be able to nip home for the weekend.

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Silver badge

re: Terrorists and Area Rule.

"And if a terrorist takes this baby over you can't shoot it down because no missiles fly that fast"

Any terrorist flying at 5M will miss his target.

"super sonic planes should have the same cross sectional area throughout the body as much as possible, that one is shaped like a wedge."

Not the same area but the one that changes smoothly over the length of the plane.

But the area rule is most important during high transonic and low supersonic speeds. At M5 that won't be so important, I guess.

Anyway, this picture is just a concept art - not an actual blueprint...

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What is it with the planes?

Why must it always be some sort of airplane? Heinlein, Clarke, and all the rest were writing about intercontinental ballistic rocket passenger service in the 50's. That should be able to get you from London to anywhere else in the world in about an hour and a half, give or take.

-Chris

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Bronze badge

Boeing? Supersonic? No way.

No, Boeing has absolutely *no* plans to build any supersonic passenger jet. Our airlines want jets that are profitable. If all of you will remember, the Concorde were always subsidised by coach customers, rather like the first-class cabins on the Titanic were subsidised by the huddled masses in steerage.

EU/Airbus wants to waste the money? Go for it. And have fun making the hydrogen to fly the thing. (Let's see, how many fields of solar cells will be needed in the cloudy UK for fuel production? Hmmm....) Or maybe it will only fly out of the south of France, where they have sunlight.

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Joke

To the tune of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Hypersonic hydrogen airliner to bitchslap Concorde

Even though the cost of it is something quite enormous

If you fly it fast enough, it might become explosive

Hypersonic hydrogen airliner to bitchslap Concorde

Um diddle um diddle um diddle ay

Um diddle um diddle um diddle ay

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Flame

@ Frank

there never will be an American version of this, because there's no legal way to force every airport to install cryogenic fuel capability for the one or two times this aircraft lands.

Unlike your new big wonky Airbus, in which the big mean EU forced major airports to build in the capability to take a practically non-existant aircraft, because existing infrastructure (gates and terminals) simply couldn't fit it.

Big governments like the EU and China have no problem forcing massive civil engineering projects (funded by unwilling and unrecognized taxpayers) do they? Boeing attempts to build transsonic airliners and mega passenger aircraft were all terminated in the design stage specifically because of their inability to operate from preexisting infrastructure. Especially with snobby uncooperative Euro's whinging about how they'd have to make a change and refusing to do so. Boeing designs included weird stuff like folding wings and even aircraft that loaded sideways or folded in half Super Guppy style. All to be good Global Neighbors and not force the rest of the world to catch up. Needless to say, all designs failed.

That's why Northrop doesn't build a flying wing airliner-no way to make it work at existing terminals. Airbus could have done so, used a superior design, but didn't need to. Why do anything better when you're guaranteed no competition? Just make it bigger and have Big Brother ram tax money after it to make it fit.

And when it all turns out to be a big boondoggle, there's no worries-you can't vote out your Constortiums, they'll still be around to come up with their next your-taxes-to-their-pocket routine. Complain enough and the new EU military doesn't have to worry about violating your constitutional rights, because there isn't one of those either.

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BW

Try googling Barnes Wallis' Swallow. He envisaged a ten hour return trip in the fifties for his variable geometry plane but the British gov dropped it ( anything interesting they drop, taxes on the other hand.....) so whilst looking for backing in the states the yanks stole the idea from Wallis and made the F111.

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IT Angle

Obligatory IT Angle

Imagine the bandwidth of one of these creepers full of DLT tapes!

telldodo: nod to andrew tanenbaum

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ESA plus British boffinry, eh?

What's the projected maximum cruising altitude for this, at mach 5.5, whilst air-breathing? Though this aircraft's design is not intended for orbit, the engine design will open up a massive cost reduction in payload to orbit, when used with LOX, for above the air-breathing cruise altitude. After all, at a high enough altitude (i.e. above most of the heavy atmosphere, say 100,000ft+) & at that velocity, you've already done a big fraction of the gruntwork to get to orbit. Environmentally clean, too. The engine is suitable for a pure rocket, as well as a high-atmosphere airliner. Though, I wouldn't use this engine for a spaceplane. For few passengers & large amounts of equipment to orbit, it'd be better to carry a separate, disposable capsule-type (if you want a more comfortable ride, something like Russia's Kliper design?) reentry vehicle as part of the payload or as the nosecone. NASA's shuttle is too cost-inefficient in terms of deadweight payload (i.e. the orbiter's unnecessarily high reentry mass, itself).

Though, this engine design is spot on. Get it working, ESA!

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@El (not Reg)

"Though, this engine design is spot on. Get it working, ESA!"

You need to read about hydrogen economy when used as a straight fuel. Hydrogen is NOT an energy source, it is merely an energy carrier. As such its EROEI is negative. That's fine if you want to go lemming-like down that particular route to mankind making this planet into another Mars.

Get real!

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