Plans for a supersonic jet that may be able to fly from London to Sydney, Australia in just four hours is expected to be unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show next month, according to the Mail Online.
The Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin and Gulfstream, with help from NASA, are leading the way in the race to build the prototype successor to the Concorde, and the companies believe they may be close to reducing the sonic boom challenge as well, the story said. The Concorde’s loud sonic boom forced it to fly routes away from land. It last flew in November 2003. The supersonic plane was operated by British Airways and Delta joint venture partner Air France.
The prototype, codenamed X-54, will initially be targeted to the business jet market, mainly European and Middle East buyers, under the slogan, ‘To the USA and back in a working day,’ the story said.
The aircraft seats 12 and is expected to cost $80 million each.
The Gulfstream X-54 is a research and demonstration aircraft, under development in the United States by Gulfstream Aerospace, that is planned for use in sonic boom and supersonic transport research.
Initiated during 2008, the X-54 project is intended to produce an experimental aircraft capable of supersonic speeds. The X-54A is intended to produce test data on sonic boom effects in support of future supersonic transport design and regulation. Current regulations prohibit supersonic flight over land areas in the United States; the X-54 is part of Gulfstream's efforts to have the regulations altered to allow for supersonic transports to be commercially viable.
The X-54A is being developed by Gulfstream Aerospace and is intended to be powered by two Rolls-Royce Tay turbofan engines. Although the aircraft has received an 'X' series designation in the U.S. Department of Defense's Mission Designation System at the request of NASA, neither the U.S. military nor NASA is currently involved in the project.
Although Gulfstream has made little comment about the X-54A project, at the 2008 National Business Aviation Association convention a Gulfstream executive stated that Gulfstream's work on advanced technologies for supersonic flight had been ongoing "for some time" and that a "complete airplane designed for low [sonic] boom" would possibly "have X-54 painted on the side of it."
The X-54A may be connected to Gulfstream's "Sonic Whisper" program, trademarked in 2005 as an aircraft design to "reduce boom intensities during supersonic flight." Some sources claim that the X-54A is based on the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter; this conflicts with the description of the aircraft by the DOD.