USA (Next Media) - Boeing Co's X-51A Waverider has achieved the longest hypersonic flight by a jet-fuel powered aircraft, flying for 3-1/2 minutes at five times the speed of sound, the U.S. Air Force said.
“The last of four unmanned experimental military aircraft built by Boeing flew for at a top speed of Mach 5.1 over the Pacific Ocean on May 1,” according to Reuters. “The total flight covered 230 nautical miles in just over six minutes before the hypersonic cruiser plunged into the ocean.”
“The Air Force said it was the longest of the four X-51A test flights and the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight ever. The technology opens the door to future practical uses for hypersonic jet-fueled aircraft,” the report continued.
The cruiser’s scramjet engine processes high-speed air and fuel using little in the way of machinery to allow for a seamless flight. The most recent successful test may pave the way for engineers to develop the speedy engine for practical use.