Izay Ayesha looks at an exciting development in the world of aviation
Destinus – Civil aviation industry is a vast field oriented to provide maximum facilities to the passengers traveling from one destination to the other. The industry spends extremely large amount in research and development that not only is used for improving facilities on the ground but also for designing and building technologically advanced airliners. It is recently reported that an airliner is under construction that may radically increase the speed of travel that may reduce distances to the maximum. In this context it is reported that once this airliner comes into operation then passengers will be able to travel from Europe to Australia in just four hours and from Frankfurt to Dubai in just 90 minutes. Apparently it appears to be science fiction but a company called Destinus is developing a hypersonic plane in Europe and could soon make this a reality.
Destinus is a Swiss start-up which was established just two years ago in 2021. However, the company has made great progress in that short period of time. Several European countries are working together and the company has partnered with the Spanish government programme and a team of 120 people throughout Spain, France and Germany. Big investments have been made in investments and collaborations from technology centres, companies and even Spanish universities. The initial two prototypes of the hypersonic plane have undergone successful test flights and are currently preparing to commence trials for hydrogen-powered flight.
The third prototype, known as Destinus 3, is expected to conduct its inaugural flight by the year’s end. The Destinus hypersonic plane is expected to travel at Mach 5 which is five times the speed of sound. This means it could reach a top speed of 6,174 kilometres per hour or about 3,837 miles per hour. Reaching this mind-blowing speed means that the plane could fly from London to Sydney in just four hours compared to the current travel time of around 22 hours. The Destinus plane will be powered by hydrogen which is a clean and efficient fuel source.
The Swiss start-up says that the aircraft will take off from a Hyperport which is an airport with hydrogen handling infrastructure but once in the air will then use rocket engines to reach hypersonic speeds. Not only is hydrogen a clean fuel source but it is also abundant and can be produced from renewable sources. This means that the Destinus plane could potentially have a very low environmental impact. But the development of a hypersonic plane is not without its challenges. According to Destinus, one of the biggest challenges is finding materials that can withstand the extreme temperatures generated by hypersonic flight. The company points out that at these high velocities it is a challenge to keep the structure cold and it is not easy to do that. It mentions that it is developing a unique active cooling system solution that converts the thermal energy generated by friction with air into propulsion. It is required to keeping the structure cold enough to survive the external hot flow conditions while powering the rocket engines.
If Destinus is successful with the project’s development, a few years from now, one could see a significant shift in air travel. It is reported that as early as the 2030s these planes could be carrying passengers in a smaller-scale hydrogen fuel aircraft that holds around 25 business class passengers. By 2040 even Destinus hopes to fly all class of passengers around the world and would be able to fly all passenger classes around the world in just a few short hours. The Weekender