General Electric (GE) has announced it is working on a new engine that will make travelling faster than the speed of sound a commercial reality for the first time since the demise of Concorde.
The Affinity engine will be used in the upcoming Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet and GE says it will operate at altitudes of up to 60,000ft (18,000m) and speeds of up to Mach 1.4 – 1,000mph (1,600kmh).
It is also designed to comply with stringent noise limitations, which means it can travel subsonic over land as well as supersonic over water.
The AS2 will take to the skies for the first time in 2023 and GE is hoping to go into full production by 2025.
Developers of the engine hope the success of the AS2 will act as a springboard – launching a ‘renaissance’ of commercial supersonic flight.
This sleek AS2 jet that will feature the Affinity engine is being built in collaboration with Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation and Honeywell.
The firm claims the project will slash the duration of transatlantic journeys by three hours.
Further details of the proposed engine are sparse but GE says the Affinity will be superior to the Rolls-Royce engine that powered Concorde.
Affinity is being made with the combined expertise of GE’s fighter jet division and the specialists who worked on engines for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
GE said in a statement: ‘The Affinity is a new class of medium bypass ratio engines that provide exceptional and balanced performance across supersonic and subsonic flights.
‘The Affinity integrates a unique blend of proven military supersonic experience, commercial reliability and the most advanced business jet engine technologies.’
The new engines will implement simple changes that are highly effective in reducing operating costs and increasing the plane’s range.
A sweeping leading edge on the wing and a new fuselage design will help reduce air drag over the wing by up to 60 per cent, and overall drag by 20 per cent.