Passenger planes still run roughly the same as they have for 40 years, but in another 40 years we may make some progress. EADS, a European aerospace company, has unveiled its newest concept passenger plane: the Zehst, which stands for “Zero Emission Hypersonic Transportation.” The hybrid rocketplane will be powered by biofuels made from seaweed while under the Ozone layer and switch to rocket engines once it rises above the ozone, technically making it a zero-emission plane. With a cruising altitude of 20 miles, it will be able to travel from Paris to Tokyo in 2.5 hours, a flight that takes about 12 hours today.
“I imagine the plane of the future to look like Zehst,” EADS’ chief technical officer Jean Botti said as the project was announced before the start of the Paris International Air Show. A model of the plane will be on display at Bourget for the biannual aerospace showcase, which begins this Monday. EADS hopes to have a prototype plane built by 2020 and have the plane enter service around 2050.
If he is right, by 2050 we’ll all be flying at mach 4 in planes that have more in common with the SR-71 Blackbird than a common passenger plane today. From the concept video, it appears that the new plane will have Wi-Fi as well, which is always nice. It’s going to have a tough time competing with this clear biomorphing plane concept though. After all, everyone wants a window seat.