Swiss firm Destinus has been diligently working on the development of a hypersonic hydrogen aircraft for several years, aiming to transform the intercontinental travel experience by dramatically cutting flight durations.
With this technology, passengers can look forward to drastically reduced flight times, such as 4 hours and 15 minutes from Sydney to Frankfurt (down from 20 hours), 3 hours and 30 minutes between South America and Dubai (compared to 14 and a half hours), and just over 3 hours from Tokyo to Memphis (rather than almost 13 hours).
How Does it Work? The Science behind Hypersonic Aircraft
To enable this groundbreaking shift in passenger transport, Destinus is designing an aircraft that can travel over five times the speed of sound, suitable for long-haul journeys, and powered by eco-friendly hydrogen. These planes will reach much higher speeds than traditional passenger aircraft at high altitudes, climbing into the stratosphere and flying partially at elevations surpassing 30 kilometers. However, earlier concepts suggest they may soar even higher, reaching the mesosphere at altitudes exceeding 50 kilometers.
During the final phase of the flight, the aircraft will significantly decelerate, seamlessly integrating with other aircraft as they ‘glide.’
Innovating for the Future: Liquid Hydrogen Propulsion and Beyond
While the specific details of the aircraft’s operations are continuously evolving, Destinus has identified liquid hydrogen propulsion as a primary goal. The aircraft will also boast unique features, including active cooling to safeguard against thermal effects from friction and an autopilot mode.
The Eiger prototype completed its first test flight last November, and the next model, the Destinus-3, is slated to take to the skies in 2024, equipped with cutting-edge hydrogen propulsion.
Collaborating for Success: Destinus and ITP Aero Join Forces
Destinus has partnered with Spanish firm ITP Aero to establish a test center near Madrid, dedicated to constructing and testing various engine types. Madrid was selected as the location following a €26.7 million grant awarded by the Spanish government to develop the nation’s hydrogen-based transport infrastructure, as announced on April 6th.