Airbus Files Patent for Hypersonic Bizjet

Aerospace giant targets Mach 4 cruise speed.

Airbus Hypersonic

Airbus Hypersonic

Airbus engineers have quietly received a patent for a 20-passenger hypersonic "ultra-rapid" business jet that would be capable of whisking the well-heeled from San Francisco to Paris in under three hours.

The patent claims the ambitious aircraft would significantly reduce its sonic boom to allow flights at supersonic speed over land. Turbojets and a rocket motor would propel the aircraft to cruise altitude before ramjets would then accelerate it to an eye-popping top speed of Mach 4.

It's unlikely the hyper-jet will become a reality anytime soon since the Airbus patent approval has a one-year expiration. But the design study proves Airbus is thinking seriously about the future of high-speed travel.

In the meantime, work at Airbus continues on the Aerion supersonic business jet project, which aims to carry passengers at a relatively pedestrian Mach 1.6. The proposed $100 million trijet, however, appears no closer to market reality than it did before Airbus signed on as a technical partner. Still, it or something similar will presumably arrive before the era of hypersonic travel is upon us.

Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.