The announcement that Concorde, the world’s only supersonic passenger jet, is to be retired is likely to mean the end of such high-speed air travel for at least two decades.
But when supersonic passenger aircraft eventually return, scramjets may make it possible for them to travel seven times the speed of sound. Concorde’s top speed is 2.2 times the speed of sound – 2160 km/h at an altitude of 18,300 metres.
The end of Concorde came on Thursday, when its operators British Airways and Air France said the fleet would be permanently removed from service at the end of November 2003. Substantially reduced demand for luxury travel across the Atlantic, as well as increased maintenance requirements, has made the service uneconomical.