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China to build hypersonic jet; 'couple hours' Beijing to NYC

by Justin King

A scale model has achieved a top speed of 5,343 mph in a wind tunnel.

China is reportedly working on a hypersonic jet that could fly from Beijing to New York City in just a few hours.

A project outlined in the Science China Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy journal aims to resolve a few of the aerodynamic challenges in designing aircraft that can handle such high speeds.

"Hypersonic vehicles, which flight at Mach numbers greater than 5, will serve as a more convenient and efficient transport tool than present subsonic airplanes for long-distance journeys in future," author Cui Kai writes.

The team tested scale models in a wind tunnel at speeds of up to Mach 7 (5,371 mph), employing a unique I-shape cross-section with a lower and upper wing to improve the lift-to-drag (L/D) ratio.

Hypersonic flight is not a new concept, with a record of Mach 6.72 set with the manned X-15 research aircraft in the mid-1960s. High fuel consumption and issues with sonic boom noise discouraged investment in commercial airliners that can travel faster than Mach 1.0, however several companies are currently working on more efficient and quieter designs that aim to revive supersonic air travel.