London to Sydney in 3.5 hours: hypersonic plane could be a reality by 2050

EADS - the firm that owns Airbus hopes to usher in a new hypersonic age of air travel by 2050.

London to Sydney in 3.5 hours: Hypersonic jet "ZEHST" could be a reality by 2050

A computer graphic of Zehst: a hypersonic plane that could fly up to 100 passengers at a time from one side of the world to the other in just over three hours - but we could be waiting 40 years for the chance. Photo Source: EADS

Radical plans for a hypersonic plane that could transport passengers from London to Sydney in three-and-a-half hours have been unveiled at the Paris air show.

The plane – named “zero emission hypersonic transportation” (ZEHST) – would take off from a standard runway, and carry up to 100 passengers above the atmosphere, cruising at 3,125mph – more than four times the speed of sound (Mach 4). Concorde flew at Mach 2, or twice the speed of sound.

The plane’s developers, EADS – the European aeronautic and defence firm which owns Airbus – believe the concept is “viable” but say they don’t expect the plane to be ready for passengers until 2050.

EADS innovation and technology director, Jean Botti said the firm had been working on the project since Concorde retired eight years ago.

While the plane is still at concept stage and will require huge funding to get it off the ground, EADS says demonstration flights could be happening as early as 2020.

Travelling at hypersonic speeds on “ZEHST” would make long-haul getaways possible in a weekend, with flights from London to the east coast of America possible in an hour, or to Tokyo in two hours.

EADS says the plane would be virtually emission-free, as it would be powered by sea-weed based biofuels, hydrogen and oxygen, producing only water emissions.

There has been no official word on how much a hypersonic flight could cost the average passenger, although the plane is believed to be targeting business travellers.

Watch a simulation video of ZEHST, the world’s first hypersonic jet:

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