EADS Adds High-Speed ZEHST to Paris Air Show

Airplane would travel in excess of Mach 4.

Photo Courtesy of EADS

The world will not only be a better place, it will also seem much smaller if EADS can pull off its latest concept airplane called ZEHST (Zero Emission High Supersonic Transport), revealed at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France. Plans are to produce an airplane that impacts the environment minimally, while having the power to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Innovators at EADS used ideas from the Astrium suborbital spaceplane project, currently in a slow developmental phase, to come up with the ZEHST concept. A propulsion system that uses several different engines is on the drawing board, some operating on biofuel, others on a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The combination is expected to enable an initial climb speed of .8 Mach, and a continuous climb speed of Mach 2.5. Once at an altitude of more than 17 nautical miles, the airplane is expected to reach speeds in excess of Mach 4.

EADS hopes to have ZEHST demonstrators constructed by the end of the decade, but EADS chief technical officer Jean Botti doesn’t expect the ZEHST to fly before 2040.

The concept is sponsored by France’s Directorate General for Aviation and appears to be an idea spawned from the European Commission’s “Flightpath 2050,” which challenges aircraft developers to reduce aircraft CO2 emissions by 75 percent, and reduce NOx by 90 percent and noise levels by 65 percent compared to the levels of the year 2000.