From New York To London In 11 Minutes
Canadian industrial designer Charles Bombardier created quite a stir with the Skreemr—a supersonic transport concept designed to shuttle commercial passengers between continents at Mach 10.
Despite its appeal, the futuristic notion had a few shortcomings—most pressingly the imagined craft’s inability to mitigate the resulting sonic boom, not to mention the heat that would accumulate on its nose and wings upon rapidly accelerating. “I am not sure the materials able to withstand the heat, pressure, and structural stress for this application have been invented yet,” Bombardier confessed in an earlier interview.
Shortly after the Skreemr made its debut, however, a possible solution to both problems came to light. ”I was contacted by [Wyle engineer and former Department of Defense RIAC director] Joseph Hazeltine, who proposed using a novel aerodynamic phenomenon called ‘long penetration mode (LPM),’” he reveals.
The revelation prompted the Montreal-based innovator to draft an entirely new hypersonic concept—”the Antipode.”
A luxury business jet capable of reaching Mach 24—over twice the speed of the Skreemr and nearly 12 times faster than Concorde—the jet is designed to transport a maximum of 10 people up to 20,000 kilometers (or 12,427 miles) in under an hour. “I wanted to create an aircraft concept capable of reaching its antipode—or diametrical opposite—as fast as possible,” Bombardier says.
Unlike the Skreemr (which would employ a magnetic railgun system), the Antipode—conceived in collaboration with Lunatic Koncepts founder Abhishek Roy—would be capable of taking off from any airfield due to rocket boosters attached to its wings. The accelerators would provide the craft with enough thrust to climb to 40,000 feet and reach Mach 5, then separate from it and fly back to base (similar to Blue Origin’s boosters).
“The aircraft’s onboard computer would then ignite its supersonic combustion ramjet engine and accelerate up to Mach 24,” Bombardier says. It would channel some of the air, flowing at supersonic speed, through a nozzle located on the nose of the aircraft, producing a counterflowing jet of air that would induce LPM, which would in turn lead to a drop in surface temperature due to aeroheating and a reduction of the shockwave and noise caused by breaking the sound barrier.
“The leading edge of the wings of the aircraft could also be fitted with linear nozzles so that air could flow out of them too. That way, all leading edge surfaces could be cooled by LPM,” he adds.
Regardless the craft would need to be built using heat- and pressure-proof materials. “LPM could help reduce heat, but it would not eliminate all of it—even if it’s working in perfect flight conditions,” he says.
Bombardier believes LPM technology could be applied to various-sized supersonic aircraft—ideally those shaped like rockets (a form that minimizes exposed surfaces). “The Antipode’s current configuration does not reflect an optimal shape in that regard,” he admits.
The plane’s wings would have enough lift to glide and land on a 6,000-foot runway. “Emergency compact rocket boosters—akin to the EZ-Rocket from X-COR aerospace—could be ignited in case the aircraft needed to make a second landing attempt and could also be used to slow it down,” he says.
According to the designer, the most difficult part of building such a craft would lie in the development of a stable and reliable scramjet engine—a feat NASA has yet to accomplish. There’s also the question of how to alleviate the paralyzing g-forces passengers would experience on board the craft.
As for the price tag: “The cost of producing the Antipode would be less than that of the Skreemr since it would be smaller and use existing technology,” he says. “But it would still cost a lot more than any business jet on the market today.”
Flight durations aboard the Antipode:
New York to London (3,459 miles) → 11 minutes
New York to Paris (3,625 miles) → 12 minutes
New York to Tokyo (6,737 miles) → 22 minutes
New York to Dubai (6,836 miles) → 22 minutes
New York to Shanghai (7,364 miles) → 24 minutes
New York to Hong Kong (8,040 miles) → 26 minutes
New York to Sydney (9,929 miles) → 32 minutes