Research & Innovation

From Europe to Australia in three hours time: high speed flight in the stratosphere

15 November 2018

It is not science fiction but a technology that could be ready to be tested outside research labs by 2035. The EU project Stratofly, coordinated by Politecnico di Torino, will explore high speed flying in the stratosphere for passengers transport. The research project will be collaboratively developed by a consortium made up of Institut von Karman de Dynamique des Fluides (Belgium), Stichting Nationaal Lucht - En Ruimtevaartlaboratorium (The Nederlands), Centro Italiano Ricerche Aerospaziali Scpa (Italy), Deutsches Zentrum für Luft - Und Raumfahrt e.V. (Germany), Office National d'Etudes et de Recherches Aerospatiales (France), CNRS - Centre National de La Recherche Scientifique (France), Totalforsvarets Forskningsinstitut (Sweden), Technische Universitat Hamburg (Germany), Fundacion de la Ingenieria Civil De Galicia (Spain).

Hypersonic aircraft will fly eight times faster than sound and ten times faster than a current passengers transport aircraft: a revolution in air traffic. It will be possible to connect far away locations in a reduced time. For example, you will be able to fly from Europe to Australia in just three hours’ time. Aircrafts and technologies that are studied by the project team will result in innovative propulsion systems. This research is accompanied by an analysis of passenger welfare aspects such as comfort, biorhythm and security and environmental effects such as impacts on the ozone layer and climate.

The research project is multidisciplinary and combines technological and operational aspects: the innovative “air-breathing” propulsion system will use hydrogen as fuel.

“We are proud to work at a project that will help Europe in achieving another fundamental step towards very high speed passengers transport”, says Nicole Viola, project coordinator and professor at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering of Politecnico di Torino.

The project will make possible the exploration of new flight routes at altitudes currently not exploited and in a context of increasing air traffic (six-fold increase expected by 2050), while reducing emissions and noise, taking care at the same time of impact on climate and passengers security standards.