Breaking the Sound Barrier
The last supersonic flight took off 13 years ago and was mothballed, until now
IN 1976, the first supersonic flight from London to New York took place under the auspices of the Concorde company, which had commercialised the programme. However, it never really took off due to a variety of reasons. You could get across the Atlantic rapidly but the flight was noisy and no one from London really wanted to be in New York that much at the time. Also one ticket was quite expensive.
Our increasingly globe-trotting lifestyle and the current pace of life suggests that there may be more demand today for a supersonic experience with the right setup and a competitive price. You could hop onto a plane in London at 10am, arrive in New York at 8am and be in your transatlantic offices by 9am to get things moving, and be off by four in the afternoon to reach home by midnight. That’s quite an impressive arrangement. (See sidebar for an even more insane concept.)
The sonic boom, which is the voluminous bang that’s heard when an object crosses the sound barrier is a big problem that has to be eradicated. One way is to fly higher, but that has its own set of problems. Instead of straight wing systems, the Spike supersonic jets have flexible wing panels that can adjust to reduce air resistance and make the plane more aerodynamic, without consuming more fuel.