The sound barrier is the basic reason why today’s passenger planes cannot fly even more swiftly. The speed of sound is broken when a velocity of 1,225 kilometers per hour is reached at sea level. Planes require special design and high-thrust engines in order to fly safely at this speed or faster.
To date, only two civil aircraft have been able to pass the speed of sound, which has otherwise only been broken by military planes. These were the Russians’ Tupolev Tu-144 and the French-U.K. joint manufactured Concorde. Both passenger planes were developed in the 1960s. But the projects did not progress further.
The Tu-144 was retired in 1978 and the Concorde in 2003, as it could not overcome the economic crisis following its sole crash in 2000.
Since 2005, the Russian manufacturer Sukhoi has been working to develop a supersonic business jet. The plane will have an eight-seat capacity and be able to reach a speed of 1,960 kilometers per hour with the help of military technologies. With a planned range of 7,400 kilometers, the jet will be noiseless and environmentally friendly thanks to its special design.
A special engine design will prevent the sonic booms that take place at the back of planes in flights that surpass the speed of sound. Italian aviation giant Alenia is in talks with Sukhoi in order to become a partner in the project. The goal is to start manufacturing the jets in 2015.
The Aerion Corporation, which started activities in 2006, is seeking $3 billion to continue its business jet project. Uncertainty is ongoing over the project, the sales price of which was designated at $80 million in 2007, when the company received 50 orders. The firm has announced that the design process is underway and wing trials will take place next year.