The Atlanta-based Hermeus Corporation has secured funding to begin working on a plan that will fly at Mach 5, five times faster than the speed of sound.
Hermeus hopes to build planes that can hit cruising speeds of 3,300 miles per hour, cutting the seven hour flight between New York and London down to just an hour and a half.
The founders of Hermeus have an elite pedigree coming from other buzzed about aeronautics ventures like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin. Speaking to CNN, the start-up's co-founder and CEO AJ Piplica said that they will spend the next decade developing the aircraft.
"We have a ton of flying to do in that time -- we'll have at least two smaller iterations of aircraft that we'll build, test, and learn from in that time," he said. It's really difficult to recreate the Mach 5 environment on the ground, which calls for a rethinking of how we develop vehicles that operate in this environment. That means you have to fly. We have to build a lot of hardware and fly it early so we can learn and iterate quickly."
That 10-year-timeline puts them well ahead of Boeing, who unveiled similar plans for an ultra-fast passenger airplane last year. That company said that the reality of a Mach 5 plane was 20 to 30 years away.
Supersonic travel is not new. The Concorde flew at speeds well above the speed of sound from 1976 until its retirement in 2003. It flew at a cruising altitude of 1,354 mph and made the trip from New York to London in just under four hours. Flights were discontinued due to the high cost of operating the plans and customer aversion to the high ticket price.
Hermius doesn't see that sticker shock going away, noting that a one-way ticket between NYC and London would cost around $3,000.