A decade after the final flight of the Concorde, a new supersonic passenger jet has taken shape. Developed by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the new aircraft almost looks as if it were designed in homage to the world's first supersonic commercial aircraft.
Then again, maybe it's just the white paint. The as-yet unnamed Japanese prototype is designed to not only go faster than the Concorde, but to achieve supersonic speeds much more quietly. For those old enough to recall news coverage of the Concorde, the chief complaint was of noise levels. This new aircraft is planned to produce 75 percent less noise, hopefully allowing for far fewer shattered eardrums.
The single drawback of the new concept's design is that it actually carries fewer passengers. While the Concorde carried 100 absurdly rich thrill seekers at a time, the prototype is only planned to carry half that number. And as of yet, it doesn't carry anyone. There's not even room for a pilot. But the jet does fly — or hopes to. The prototype is actually an eight meter long drone which will be used for test flights. If all goes well, the world may yet again be home to supersonic flight, undoing that giant backwards step that humanity took when the Concorde flew for the final time.