I've flown Sydney-London so often I pretend the 24-hour flight time doesn't matter, but it does. European researchers are working on hypersonic jet projects that could potentially cut that time down to four hours, but even if the scientific challenges get solved, there might not be a viable business in speedier flights.
Picture by Graham Collins
BBC News reports that the European Space Agency is working on a hypersonic jet project that could deliver much faster flight times, though it doesn't expect that to become a reality until 2040 at the earliest. But even then, there's an interesting commercial challenge:
Aviation expert John Strickland questions whether high-speed flying will ever make sense for the airline industry - which traditionally subsidises economy seats with the profits made in business class. "If you took those people off those subsonic flights then you throw into question the economics of those flights," he says. "Somewhere along the line you would end up either cancelling the subsonic flights or struggling to get the right price levels even to make a hypersonic service financially viable."
I like the idea of speedy travel, but I'm also fundamentally a cheapskate, and I suspect I'd be in the "I'll pay less for the day-long version" category. How about you?
Could hypersonic flight become a reality? [BBC News]