Aircraft engine makers have recently gone a step ahead and introduced hypersonic flight technology that can travel five times faster than the speed of sound. It’s way better than the earlier supersonic flight technology that only had a Mach>1.0. Let’s look at the companies that are making the most of this new technological development. At the same time, airliners also stand to benefit from the hypersonic flight technology.
Key Goal of Hypersonic Flight Technology
Although many would think that Concorde’s retirement in 2003 brought about an end to supersonic air travel, recent developments in the hypersonic flight technology space could make it possible for humans to experience hypersonic flights.
The key factor boosting a hypersonic flight’s efficiency is its engine’s ability to process air in high temperatures when the plane travels at a speed faster than that of sound. This is what Reaction Engines, a British aerospace manufacturer, were successful at, a CNBC report cited.
The firm’s Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE), a new class of engine, is capable of Mach 5 in air-breathing mode. The company revealed that the engine’s precooler component could withstand temperatures of up to 420 degrees Celsius, on par with conditions the plane would face when travelling at a speed of Mach 3.3. The second phase of the test would witness the precooler being exposed to over 1000 degrees Celsius, the expected conditions of a Mach 5 hypersonic flight.
Reaction Engines have secured investments of about $130 million from Boeing’s (BA - Free Report) venture capital arm HorizonX, BAE Systems (BAESY - Free Report) and Rolls Royce (RYCEY - Free Report) over the last four years. The company has also received a $78 million funding assurance from the U.K. government. Boeing and BAE Systems carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and Rolls Royce carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Boeing’s investment, particularly, reflects its steep competition with Lockheed Martin (LMT - Free Report) , Northrop Grumman (NOC - Free Report) and Raytheon (RTN - Free Report) over the development of hypersonic strike weapons, using a hypersonic engine.
How is the Aerospace Industry Expected to Benefit?
The Concorde’s shortcomings were its sonic boom and less fuel efficiency, which essentially made the jet less economic. However, these may no longer be setbacks in supersonic and hypersonic air travels for modern commercial plane manufacturers. NASA is currently working with Lockheed Martin to develop a quiet supersonic aircraft, in order to convince the FAA to allow these planes to fly over land.
Secondly, although hypersonic planes will consume more fuel than passenger planes, these could benefit from a higher utilization rate of the aircraft. Hypersonic planes will be faster than regular passenger planes, effectively reducing flight durations and will thus be able to make commercial flights more frequent. This will ultimately result in more revenue.
Boeing insists that with its propulsive, structural and fuel technology, these hypersonic planes will be financially profitable after 2040, FlightGlobal reported.
In addition, a major factor boosting the commercial aviation industry today is the demand for faster flights. This is the result of improved economic conditions and higher income, which has led to more consumers opting for air travel.
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