The A2 does not exist yet, but the science is rapidly getting there for an environmentally-friendly, super long range, large capacity commercial airliner. With the right research, money, and demand, Reaction Engines Limited estimates about 25 years before the A2 would be a reality.
The A2 is projected to have a range of 12,430 miles at speeds over Mach 5, powered only by liquid hydrogen. This means that a passenger load of 300 people could fly from Europe to Australia in only five hours.
The hydrogen not only gives fuel, but the coldness of it allows the fuel to also cool the A2 and the engines via a precooler, which is essential for the speeds and heights envisioned.
“Our work shows that it is possible technically; now it’s up to the world to decide if it wants it,” said Alan Bond, managing director of Reaction Engines Limited, in a statement.
When complete, Bond’s company says the A2 would not only fly around the world in just hours, but a ticket would cost just about as much as a contemporary business class airline ticket.
And while the A2 will be about 470 feet long — much longer than airliners — it would weigh less than a large jet airliner and be able to land at standard airport runways.
One drawback: windows. Current technology means that the heat generated by Mach 5 speeds makes windows impossible. Reaction has countered this by potentially installing digital displays showing video of the scene outside to give the effect of windows.
The A2 would be propelled by the Reaction Engines Scimitar engine, which is similar to a spaceship engine the company has in concept.
All specifications are theoretical
Capacity: 300 passengers
Length: 469 ft
Wingspan: 134.5 ft.
Max. takeoff weight: 882,000 lb
Fuel capacity: 198 tons liquid hydrogen
Cruise speed: Mach 5.2
Range: 12,430 miles