Last updated at 7:13 PM on 23rd October 2008
It is five years ago almost to the day that Concorde approached Heathrow airport under much fanfare and nostalgia on its last official flight before heading off into retirement.
In a move which for some people signalled a step backwards for technology, the Anglo-French aviation-engineering masterpiece touched down and with it the chance for people to experience supersonic air travel.
But now, an American firm is on the cusp of re-imagining the supersonic dream and confidently plans to have supersonic commercial aircraft back in the skies as a reality by 2015.
The future: It's hoped the £47.5million jet will be on the market by 2015
The Aerion Supersonic Jet may not have the same grace and style and the size of the great Concorde, but the Aerion group are so sure that the plane will fly that they have pencilled in test flights for 2012, with transatlantic testing to follow soon after.
Reaching a top speed of mach 1.6 the jet will once again put New York within three hours flight time of London.
The company are so confident in the design that they claim to have 50 interested parties, who have all paid the £150,000 deposit.
‘It simply will change the way global business is conducted. Flight times in general will be reduced about 40 percent,’ says Jeff Miller, chief spokesperson for Aerion.
‘Business and government leaders will be able to travel more in pursuit of opportunity. And they will feel a lot better when they step off the airplane.’ As everyone remembers Concorde was far from the budget airline options that are available now.
Historic: Concorde takes off for the last time from New York on October 24, 2003
The Aerion Supersonic Jet will be no different.
‘It’s priced at £47.5million - each,’ explains Miller.
‘To date, Aerion has more than 50 letters of intent secured by £150,000 deposits.
‘The cost per nautical mile will be similar to today’s large business jets.’ The biggest advance in technology that the Aerion has improved upon Concorde is in its noise reduction ability.
Concorde was famously and some would say intentionally scuppered by jealous Americans who banned the plane from flying over U.S. territory at the speed of sound.
This immediately removed any advantage the small plane had over its larger competitors and ended the supersonic age before it had begun.
The Aerion aircraft can successfully fly at nearly the speed of sound without any significant noise impact and more amazingly has the ability to fly at mach 1.15 without emanating a sonic boom.
The first Aerion Supersonic Business Jet, shown in a design above
‘This is due to the patented supersonic natural laminar flow (SNLF) technology that substantially reduces drag at supersonic as well as high-subsonic cruise speeds,’ says Jeff Miller.
Despite the fact that the Aerion is obviously only ever going to be flown by those who can afford it, the very idea that commercial supersonic airliners are going back into the skies will please the enthusiasts.
‘Aviation progress has always been synonymous with an increase in speed. To be flying more slowly in this century than in the last seems like a step backwards.,’ says Miller.
Admitting a huge debt of gratitude to Concorde, Miller impresses that the Aerion jet is a significant leap forward in aircraft technology.
Luxury: The comfortable Aerion Jet will ferry private buyers at speeds of mach 1.6, meaning New York will once again be within three hours flight time of London
‘Concorde was a beautiful machine and a product of its time, but technology has moved forward and new designs such as the Aerion jet offer greater efficiency.
‘Concorde was withdrawn due to high operating cost, which Aerion technology has successfully overcome,’ says Jeff.
Aerion will start small but hope to have the technology and the capital to one day expand their operation beyond smaller aircraft to larger Concorde sized vehicles.
‘With the success of the Aerion supersonic business jet, we expect to see supersonic flight becoming commonplace.
‘With market acceptance it will be possible to fund the development of airliner variants, offering time savings to a much larger group of travellers,’ says Jeff.
As incredible as it seems that Concorde was flying only five years ago, Aerion will be tearing across our skies in four, heralding a return to the skies of supersonic travel.