Technology in planes continues to take off, if you’ll pardon the pun, like designs off the draft. We’ve already talked to you about commercial airlines trying to create planes that will eject entire portions to save the passengers in a crisis in “Commercial airlines may turn to an eject capsule“, trying to convert a plane into a submarine while in use in “A plane that becomes a submarine: transformers are being created“, in addition to several other developments as existing planes evolve. Another passenger plane, or two, is being designed and the designer has been trying to push the boundaries to Mach 16 and now believes he can go so far Mach 24, but before we can talk about his designs, we have to understand what “Mach speeds” are.
How does the Mach speed system work?
The Mach speed system is based on sound and how fast you are going in relation to it. So at Mach 1 you are going as fast as the speed of sound, but you know that sounds can be different depending on where you are; more specifically dealing with the temperature and pressure around you. Since sound can change depending on these qualities around it, the Mach speed system is not a unit of measurement like inches or liters. Instead it deals with a range of numbers, to account for the changing conditions, while using a specific distance divided by time. For planes, it is the classification used to explain how fast a particular plane can go:
- Supersonic: Blackbird and the Concorde, as seen in the picture, get this classification to Mach 2, which is between 900 and 4000 mph at sea level with roughly 60° F in the atmosphere.
- Hypersonic: X-15 is the only jet, made back in the ’60s, to ever get to Mach 6, the fastest speed in this classification, around 8,000 mph, making it the fastest plane ever built. It requires rocket engines, a nickel-titanium body, and extremely specialized pilots to fly it. The pilots are so specialized in fact, that only twelve pilots have flown the plane and as a result, all but one were classified as astronauts, including Neil Armstrong.
- High-Hypersonic and Re-entry Speeds: the two remaining classifications. That means that the jet designer is trying to create a High-Hypersonic jet, between the classification with the fastest plane ever built and the classification with the space shuttle re-entering the atmosphere.
What is the new jet that can go Mach 24?
The first design was predicted to go Mach 10 and the designer received so much criticism on it that he designed a second jet that is predicted to go Mach 24. The newest design, that could theoretically go Mach 24 would:
- travel from New York to London in almost 10 minutes
- carry 10 people up to roughly 18,500 miles per hour
- cost a lot of money for a single ticket
But according to his design, there are also some curious hurdles to overcome simply based on the physics that come from traveling that fast:
- Take off would require reaching 40,000 feet going Mach 5, so will every passenger become an astronaut?
- Surface channels along the nose and wings of the plane will cool the surface and disperse the severe heat and extreme sound waves that will be produced at such a speed, but will it be enough to protect the passengers?
- Compressed liquid oxygen, that can cause other objects to become extremely brittle or burst into flames, will be used as fuel, so what precautions will be made?
- The liquid oxygen tanks will be safely dropped after takeoff, but then how will the plane be fueled?
As before in many blogs, this is only a concept and has yet to take form, but we are excited to see the answers to our questions and reality takes shape even if we can’t afford a ticket.