Many people thought the turbo-powered Concorde jets were gone for good, but supersonic travel may resume within the next few years.
When the last Concorde flight touched-down 12 years ago, most people thought that was the end of supersonic travel for commercial passengers. When a British Airways spokesperson was asked if the jet would ever return, he replied, “There is absolutely no chance.” But a group of Concorde experts and enthusiasts aren’t so sure — in fact, supersonic jets may once again grace the skies in the next decade.
While British Airways and Air France have no plans to revive the rapid jet planes, Club Concorde, a group of former Concorde pilots and frequent flyers, has taken matters into their own hands. Now that the club has secured sufficient funding, it has two main initiatives: first, to create a display for a Concorde in London, and second, to put another Concorde back to use in their “Return to Flight” project.
The display in London would feature a Concorde plane currently stationed near an airport in Paris, and the attraction would include a restaurant offering dishes that were originally served on Concorde flights — an interesting prospect since airplane food has a dismal reputation. The president of Club Concorde, Paul James, hopes this display will be a reality by 2017.
Getting the plane back in the air, however, will be a more ambitious task. But if all goes according to plan, the club hopes to achieve liftoff by 2019 — the 50th anniversary of the inaugural Concorde flight. Once the plane is restored, it will be used for air shows, corporate and special events, and even private charter. In an interview with the Telegraph, James says the reincarnated Concorde could be used, for instance, to fly groups from London to Monaco for the Grand Prix.
While Club Concorde may comprise the supersonic jet’s most diehard devotees, they’re not alone in their efforts to bring supersonic jets back to the skies. Airbus, for example, has already filed their plans for a Concorde that could fly from New York to London in one hour. NASA also supports the movement, and has provided MIT, the University of California, and others with funding to back research on improving supersonic flight technologies.
Spike Aerospace has plans for a plane that could reach speeds of 1,100 mph and be airborne in the early 2020s, but there’s one bizarre twist: the plane will have to forfeit windows in order to reduce weight and maintain speed. Instead, the jet’s interior walls would be covered with curved electronic screens that would either display footage of the outside world or play films for passengers to enjoy.
Since technology has evolved so much in the last decade, the movement for the return of commercial supersonic jet flights is gaining momentum. Within the next decade, the Concorde plane could reclaim its place as one of the most rapid means of transportation, second only to spaceships.