Chasing Concorde: Supersonic Race Heats Up, Again
Japan, France Cooperate On Mach 5.5 Airliner
Imagine a supersonic airliner that flies almost three times faster than Concorde did, uses less fuel and is much quieter. Well, that's what engineers in a cooperative effort between French and Japanese aerospace industry associations envision as the next incarnation of supersonic travel. "Three-year research activities are planned for technologies related to composite material structure, reduction of jet engine noise and other areas which can overcome the difficulties unique to supersonic flight," said a Japanese government statement. The collaboration between France's Aerospace Industries Association and the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies was announced at the Paris Air Show. The Japanese say they have the manufacturing expertise and the French believe they have the supersonic know-how to defeat the two basic problems that helped sink Concorde -- engine noise and fuel consumption. A consortium of Japanese companies is reportedly working on engines that operate at Mach 5.5 (Concorde poked along at Mach 2) and the country's engineering Research Association for Supersonic Transport Propulsion System (ESPR) is tackling noise, efficiency and environmental challenges. There's no timeline for a first flight.