Boeing’s New Hypersonic Jet Could Fly from the U.S. to Japan in 3 Hours—If It Ever Takes Off

June 27, 2018, 10:38 AM UTC

Cost aside, one of the biggest drags to travel is the sheer amount of time it takes to get to your destination.

But if Boeing has anything to do with it, that may one day be a thing of the past.

The aircraft manufacturing giant unveiled on Tuesday a rendering of its concept for a hypersonic passenger plane. The plane could, in theory, get passengers from Los Angeles to Tokyo in three hours, or from New York to London in as little as two. Those flights currently take 11 and 7 hours, respectively.

The hypersonic plane could theoretically fly as fast as Mach 5, which is just under 3,900 miles per hour. Even the competitor that is the farthest along in the development of a high-speed passenger plane, Aerion Corporation, is only expected reach Mach 1.5.

While Boeing has been working on hypersonics research since the mid-’50s, the company will still face numerous hurdles before it can actually build this hypersonic jet.

On the technical side, Boeing will have to design a tail for the planes that can handle the speed, explains Popular Mechanics. The plane will also need to have a more advanced cooling system than normal airplanes, and will need to be able to reach a much higher altitude, as much as 95,000 feet.

Even before Boeing can get to the logistics though, it will need to develop materials that are lightweight enough to actually allow the jet to reach Mach 5 speeds, which is likely to take years, if not decades.

And even if Boeing could manage all of these challenges, it still has cost to bear in mind. Developing and building a hypersonic jet would cost billions, but is the payoff worth it?

For now, anyway, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg thinks so. “I think in the next decade or two you’re going to see them become a reality,” he told CNBC last year. “We see future innovations where you could connect around the world in about two hours.”