Virgin Galactic has announced the first design of its high-speed supersonic jet. The aircraft engine propulsion technology will be designed in collaboration with Rolls-Royce.
The high-speed delta-wing jet will travel at Mach 3, which is three times the speed of sound, and will have capacity for 9 to 19 people flying at an altitude above 60,000 feet. The aircraft would also be able to incorporate custom cabin layouts to address customer needs, including Business or First Class seating arrangements.
According to Virgin Galactic, the design philosophy of the aircraft is geared around making high speed travel “practical, sustainable, safe, and reliable, while making customer experience a top priority”. Virgin Galactic is designing the aircraft for a range of operational scenarios, including service for passengers on long-distance commercial aviation routes. The aircraft would take off and land like any other passenger aircraft and be expected to integrate into existing airport infrastructure and international airspace around the world.
George Whitesides, Chief Space Officer, Virgin Galactic, said: “We are excited to complete the Mission Concept Review and unveil this initial design concept of a high speed aircraft, which we envision as blending safe and reliable commercial travel with an unrivalled customer experience. We are pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls-Royce as we strive to develop sustainable, cutting-edge propulsion systems for the aircraft, and we are pleased to be working with the FAA to ensure our designs can make a practical impact from the start. We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high speed travel.”
The Virgin Galactic team will now progress onto the next phase of design, which involves finalising the architecture of the aircraft and selecting which materials will be used in its design and manufacturing.
Virgin Galactic is also working closely with international regulatory communities to ensure compliance with safety and environmental standards.