Virgin Galactic Unveils Supersonic Jet Concept


Virgin Galactic and its subsidiary, The Spaceship Company, introduced a new supersonic jet design concept on Monday aimed at the long-distance commercial aviation segment. In addition, the companies announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Rolls-Royce to develop and design “engine propulsion technology for high speed commercial aircraft.” According to Virgin Galactic, the FAA’s Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation reviewed the project direction last week and authorized FAA resources to work with the company on outlining a certification framework for the design.

“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,” said Virgin Galactic Chief Space Officer George Whitesides. “We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high speed travel.”

Virgin Galactic is targeting a speed of Mach 3 at an altitude above 60,000 feet for the delta-wing design. The jet will have a customizable cabin layout capable of seating between nine and 19 people. The company says the concept will include the use of “sustainable technologies and techniques.”

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. “Why” in a world of tele-conferencing, global depression, riots, and carbon reduction? Mach 3 to London is not needed by anyone, much less for 19 people on a scheduled basis.

    • Arthur, I take it you have not heard of those that have and those that have not. I’m pretty sure Virgin will find 19 people somewhere on a pretty regular basis that want to fly mach 3. They don’t care about riots and they don’t even know what a global depression is. In the end, businesses are not social programs even though at times they think they are and many think they should be. It just doesn’t work that way, it never has.

    • Tom nailed it. The one percenters live lives we can only imagine, and literally have money to burn on something like a $10K ticket to fly from NY to London at Mach 3.

      • The top 1% of US taxpayers threshold is $538,926. Not too shabby, but not what many people think either.

  2. On the same day on Avweb … Virgin Atlantic files for bankruptcy while Virgin Galactic is trying to build a Mach 3 airplane with “sustainable technologies and techniques.” One part of the Government is using resources to get us to Mars before “the end” comes and another is using “FAA resources” to figure out a way to end the world faster but in some sort of ‘green’ way? Somewhere in all of this there’s logic but I sure as heck don’t see it.

    • … and a bunch of those very same “haves” have plunked down a lot of money to become “astronauts” in NM are STILL waiting for their turn.

      And NASA is wasting money on the X-59 doing research that THESE Companies should be funding and on work that has largely ALREADY been accomplished under Navy/DARPA funding almost 20 years ago. If the French and British couldn’t make Concorde financially sound, I doubt seriously that Virgin will fare any better.

  3. Virgin Galactic must be way ahead of their time. If only they had been able to equip Virgin Atlantic with these Mach 3 19-seaters the worst could have been avoided. Right?!?