It has been 14 years since civilian travellers have been able to travel at the speed of sound. Given that we live in an era of technological advancement and development, it seems rather odd to think that previous generations had the ability to travel in ways that was no longer available to us in the modern world.
There’s plenty of wonderful options for travel available to us in 2017. The most luxurious vehicles on Earth offer a glimpse into the high-life, the delights by which you can travel if you have the funds to do so, and transport infrastructure is improving and developing constantly. From the Japanese bullet trains to the advanced, luxury jets of today, there’s plenty of options for wonderful travel… but nothing quite beats the idea of travelling faster than the speed of sound.
The End Of The Mach 1+ Dream
While it may have been the reserve of those wealthy enough to afford a ticket, at least the past did offer a time when it was possible for civilians to travel at the speed of sound. In fact, the famous Concorde jets had a top speed of Mach 2, and were able to cross the Atlantic in a little over three hours.
Concorde officially retired in 2003, with the airlines involved citing the sheer cost of running such an advanced aircraft as the reason. Many people, however, have speculated that Concorde had suffered a dip in public perception three years prior; reputational damage so severe it could not be recovered from.
A Concorde jet crashed in July of 2000; the crash was captured on video for the world to see. After this, Concorde’s reputation suffered hugely, which is especially galling when you consider the crash was nothing to do with Concorde itself. The Concorde jet collided with a piece of debris left on the runway by another aircraft; any plane would have suffered the same fate. But the reputational damage was done, and the Mach 1+ dream for civilian travel ended.
Could We Live The Dream Of Mach 1+ Travel Again?
The best answer is… maybe. Aircraft designed for civilian travel and able to travel faster than the speed of sound are in development, but the truth is that Mach 1 travel is incredibly difficult. The stress on the aircraft’s fuselage is so huge that the maintenance costs are extreme, and few airlines would be able to sustain them.
Private investors have sought to buy a Concorde jet and return it to flight, but not as part of a regular service; it would be more of a heritage piece. With that said, the aviation authorities have not been receptive to the idea, with some saying a privately-maintained Concorde would never be given the permission to fly.
So the future of Mach 1 travel is definitely with new developments and technology, but it’s worth asking if we even need Mach 1 travel. After all, we can communicate via Skype and have meetings over the internet nowadays. We might like the idea of being able to travel the world at supersonic speeds, but the truth is, we don’t need to anymore.