Supersonic airplanes might be making a major comeback, but environmental scientists warn these time-saving transports will add even more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than ever before.
A group of regulators from around the world are scheduled to meet in Canada next week to discuss the impacts of supersonic travel on the environment. Ahead of the meeting, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) published an article about how supersonic planes impact the environment.
According to USA Today, the ICCT discovered that supersonic airplanes consume significantly more fuel than a standard commercial aircraft. In fact, these jets will use around five times the amount of fuel as a normal jet flying the same route. Supersonic jets consume more fuel because they are faster and carry fewer travelers.
Companies in the aviation business previously agreed to cut down on carbon emissions by the year 2050, but with the threat of supersonic jets returning to the skies, ICCT director Dan Rutherford believes those goals will not be met in time.
“Adding these planes, which could be five to seven times as carbon intensive as comparable subsonic jets, on top of that just to save a few hours flying over the Atlantic seems problematic to me,” Rutherford explained.
The appeal of these jets is that they fly at a much faster rate than typical airliners and can cruise at higher altitudes. For example, a supersonic airplane could make it from New York to Paris in under four hours while a normal jet takes about eight hours to complete the same trip. This effectively cuts air travel time in half.
There are three corporations from the United States that are seeking to build a new generation of supersonic airplanes for commercial use. This includes Boom Supersonic, which plans on building around 2,000 aircrafts, Aerion Supersonic and Spike Aerospace. The latter two companies are only planning on offering supersonic jets for business travel.
This, of course, is not the first time supersonic jets have graced the skies. Air France and British Airways had a line of supersonic jets between the years 1976 and 2003. The companies stopped offering the service after an accident in 2000 took the lives of 113 passengers. They also had trouble selling tickets because the price of a flight was much higher than a conventional jet.
Via USA Today
Image via Jacek Dylag