Twenty years have passed since Concorde's final flight, marking the end of supersonic commercial aviation. Over the years, many projects promising to revolutionize super-fast travel have emerged but have failed to deliver. However, a Swiss-based startup called Destinus is now attempting to develop a hypersonic plane that uses hydrogen fuel to reach five times the speed of sound, reducing travel time to a quarter of current commercial air travel.
The company was established in 2021 and has already achieved significant milestones, with two prototypes successfully completing test flights and a third set to take off later this year. Martina Löfqvist, the business development manager, explained the company's approach of first developing smaller autonomous drones before scaling up to pilot-driven or passenger-carrying aircraft.
Destinus has chosen hydrogen as its fuel of choice due to its clean, renewable energy source and high energy density. While Airbus is also developing a hydrogen jet engine, hydrogen-powered aviation is still in its early stages. In the short term, Destinus plans to use Jet A fuel for takeoff and then switch to hydrogen at supersonic speeds.
Ultimately, Destinus hopes to become fully hydrogen-powered and zero-emission, enabling ultra-long-range flights, such as from Europe to Australia. However, the company recognizes that hydrogen production is still scaling up and has chosen Jet A fuel as a temporary solution.