London, Oct 24 : A new aircraft capable of flying between London and New York within three hours is being developed to replace Concorde, heralding a return to supersonic travel.
According to a report in the Telegraph, the Aerion Supersonic Jet may not have the same grace, style and size of Concorde, but its designers say its top speed of mach 1.6 will transform the way international business is conducted.
Test flights have been pencilled in for 2012 and executives at Aerion, an American company, claim to already have 50 interested parties, all of whom have paid the 150,000 pounds deposit.
"Flight times in general will be reduced about 40 percent," said Jeff Miller, Aerion spokesman.
"Business and government leaders will be able to travel more in pursuit of opportunity. And they will feel a lot better when they step off the aeroplane," he added.
Though the jets will be priced at about 47.5million pounds each, Miller promises that the cost per nautical mile will be similar to today's large business jets, such as the Boeing 747.
Concorde started its service in 1976 and continued for 27 years, offering the fastest transatlantic travel available to man. There were 20 of the aircraft built at a cost of 23 million pounds each in the 1970s.
But in 2003, Air France and British Airways simultaneously announced that they would retire Concorde later that year, citing low passenger numbers following the 2000 crash, the slump in air travel following the September 11 attacks and rising maintenance costs.
Concorde had been able to fly between London and New York in just under three hours, but currently the fastest jet takes around seven and a half.
According to Miller, "Aviation progress has always been synonymous with an increase in speed. To be flying more slowly in this century than in the last seems like a step backwards."
The new Aerion Jet also aims to correct one of Concorde's major problems.
It can fly at nearly the speed of sound without any significant noise impact and can travel at mach 1.15 without producing a sonic boom.
Though the price of Concorde tickets were a trifle expensive, Miller promises that the Aerion Jet will be cheaper.
"Concorde was a beautiful machine and a product of its time, but technology has moved forward and new designs such as the Aerion jet offer greater efficiency," he said.
"Concorde was withdrawn due to high operating cost, which Aerion technology has successfully overcome," he added.