Four-hour flights from Europe to Australia if Spain has its way

Fast planes coming soon!/Shutterstock Images

It currently takes about 20 hours´ flight time from Europe to a place like Australia in a current, regular passenger jet. Destinus, a Swiss start-up plans to change all this with a hypersonic, hydrogen-powered passenger jet.

The company has been testing its prototype for the past few years—the second prototype called Eiger had a successful test flight at the end of 2022.

Now Destinus has announced its involvement in a programme run by Spain’s Ministry of Science, as part of the Spanish government’s plans to develop hydrogen-powered supersonic flights, according to Euronews.

The agency overseeing the ministry’s programme, the Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico e Industrial, selected the Destinus project as a strategic initiative under its Plan de Tecnologías Aeronáuticas (PTA).

Current investment in the project sits at €12 million, and involves companies and technology centres as well as Spanish universities.

“We are delighted to have been awarded these grants, especially because they are a clear sign that Destinus is aligned with the strategic lines of Spain and Europe to advance hydrogen flight,” said VP Business Development and Products for Destinus, Davide Bonetti..

Hydrogen power is the subject of much current research and development, with advocates pointing to its environmentally-friendly credentials—the main byproducts of hydrogen combustion being heat and water. What to do about the heat is an issue.

Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne recently developed 3D printed catalysts which they say can power hypersonic flight and act as a cooling agent to combat the extreme heat generated when aircraft fly five times the speed of sound, which is around 6,100 kilometres per hour (km/h).

Future passenger airlines would be able to fly between London and New York in around 90 minutes at these speeds.

Destinus claims its technology will make the journey from Frankfurt to Sydney last just 4 hours 15 minutes as opposed to 20 hours—from Frankfurt to Shanghai taking 2 hours 45 minutes—eight hours shorter than that journey currently takes.

Destinus partnered with Spanish engine manufacturer ITP Aero in June last year to develop a hydrogen engine test facility.

The grant from the Spanish government will fund the construction of a test facility near Madrid where the air-breathing hydrogen engines will be put through their paces. A second grant project of €15 million will fund research into aspects of liquid hydrogen-powered propulsion.

The project is part of the Spanish aim to be at the forefront of developing and producing hydrogen-based mobility across a number of sectors.

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