This is the brand new project being designed by EADS, and supported by Japan as well as the French DGAC (Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile – FAA or CAA equivalent). The European consortium has just unveiled its ZEHST project as the Paris Air Show 2011 is opening. ZEHST stands for Zero Emission Hypersonic Transportation.
This aircraft would be both a commercial airplane, and a rocket. It could cruise at « flight level 1056 » i.e. 20 miles or 32 kilometers above the mean sea level… The ZEHST specifications feature a speed of Mach 4 but according to the video below, it might reach Mach 4.5 i.e. 5,500 km/h or 3,000 kts through the stratosphere. It would use two independent turbojets for taking off, then it would gain speed thanks to two cryogenic rocket engines, finally two ramjets would propell the aircraft to hypersonic speeds.
The ZEHST is supposed to pollute far less than the Concorde as it would have a main cruise stage in the stratospheric layers, and according to EADS, its carbon footprint should be very low. There could between 60 and 100 passengers on board who could join Tokyo from Paris in 2.5 hours instead of 11.5, and New-York in 1.5 hours instead of 8! The prototype is expected to fly by 2020, and the first passengers might enjoy stratospheric flights around 2050.
Watch the video: