Paris-Tokyo in three hours: Airbus wins patent for hypersonic plane

Tue Aug 4, 2015 10:53am EDT
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PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) has won a patent for a hypersonic plane, but Concorde's hydrogen-powered successor is unlikely to leave the drawing board any time soon.

The European planemaker's proposal would slash the journey time from Paris to Tokyo to under three hours, from 12 hours.

The idea, first published in 2011, is to use three different kinds of engine power to hop, skip and jump above the atmosphere, yet taking off from a regular runway.

It has now won approval from the U.S. Patent Office.

The concept comes as commercial space companies such as Virgin Galactic pursue plans for low-level space flights.

Its "gothic delta wing" echoes the elegant curves of Concorde.

But Airbus dampened any hopes of a quick return to the days of the Anglo-French supersonic jet, which was taken out of service in 2003 due to high operating costs.

"Airbus Group and its divisions apply for hundreds of patents every year in order to protect intellectual property," a spokesman said by email.

"These patents are often based on R&D concepts and ideas in a very nascent stage of conceptualization, and not every patent progresses to becoming a fully realised technology or product."   Continued...

People are silhouetted past a logo of the Airbus Group during the Airbus annual news conference in Colomiers, near Toulouse January 13, 2015.  REUTERS/Regis Duvignau