Virgin Galactic revealed that it signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rolls-Royce to collaborate in designing and developing engine propulsion technology for the high-speed commercial aircraft. The design philosophy of the aircraft is geared around making high speed travel practical, sustainable, safe, and reliable while also prioritising the customer experience.
And it sure does look like a sweet ride! "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," it announced on its website.
The high-speed aircraft design, including a targeted Mach 3 certified delta-wing aircraft, will accommodate nine to 19 people at an altitude above 60 000 feet and incorporate custom cabin layouts to address customer needs, including Business or First Class seating arrangements.
The future of travel
Chief Space Officer for Virgin Galactic George Whitesides said they were excited to unveil this initial design concept of a high-speed aircraft, which they envision as “blending safe and reliable commercial travel with 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,” he said. The basic parameters of the initial high speed aircraft design include a targeted Mach 3 certified delta-wing aircraft that would have capacity for 9 to 19 people at an altitude above 60,000 feet and would also be able to incorporate custom cabin layouts to address customer needs, including Business or First Class seating arrangements.
The aircraft design also aims to help lead the way toward use of state-of-the-art sustainable aviation fuel. Baselining sustainable technologies and techniques into the aircraft design early on is expected to also act as a catalyst to adoption in the rest of the aviation community.
Rolls-Royce North America Chairman and CEO Tom Bell said they were thrilled to explore the future of sustainable high-speed flight. “Rolls-Royce brings a unique history in high-speed propulsion, going back to the Concorde, and offers world-class technical capabilities to develop and field the advanced propulsion systems needed to power commercially available high-Mach travel,” said Bell.
The Mach 3 is definitely one of the most exciting and significant opportunities of our time with regards to commercial exploration of space and the development of technology that will change the way we travel across the globe in the future.