Imagine flying from New York to London in 3 hours, half the time it takes in today’s commercial aircraft. That’s the promise behind the Spike S-512, a supersonic business jet designed to carry 12 to 18 passengers in the ultimate luxury, zipping along at 1,100 mph.
A supersonic business jet like this doesn’t exist yet, but if a team of engineers at Spike Aerospace is successful, well-heeled one-percenters will be flying high in this supersonic plane by December, 2018.
Members of the Spike Aerospace design group have stellar pedigrees, bringing engineering expertise from Airbus, Gulfstream and Eclipse. They’ve spent two years designing this jet, a 131-foot speedster with a wingspan of 60 feet, a 40-foot-long cabin that would let me stand up straight at 6’2″, and a range of about 4,600 miles.
Update: The following pics of the S-512 interior were released by Spike Aerospace on Feb. 18, 2014, about six weeks after this post was first published.
While there are windows on the original model that makes the aircraft look like it’s wearing wrap-around sunglasses, the jet has no windows in this newer design. Eliminating windows on the sides of the plane would improve its aerodynamics and make the jet’s structure more rigid.
Instead of making passengers stare at blank walls, the designers will install huge 4K screens, continuously displaying live streaming video of a high-resolution, panoramic view.
There’s even talk of 360-degree 4K video coverage that passengers can view while speeding high above the planet at Mach 1.4.
What’s holding them back? First, they’re looking for investors — not a good sign. Second, they haven’t figured out how to eliminate that pesky sonic boom that keeps supersonic aircraft from traveling at full speed over populated areas.
But that sonic boom problem is not insurmountable. There’s been some progress by NASA and others to eliminate it. One notable design by researchers from MIT and Stanford looks like a throwback to biplanes of an earlier era.
The resulting plane wouldn’t look as sleek as Spike Aerospace’s needle-shaped projectile, though — check out this funky supersonic biplane design:
Come on billionaires, step up and help these guys create the S-512. Fund its development, and you’ll be able to pick up one of these babies for a cool $60 to $80 million and perhaps get a tidy return on your investment at the same time.
Take a look at this short and fanciful animation of what the S-512 might look like someday: