A supersonic aircraft is in the works from Virgin Galactic

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A rendering of a passenger aircraft in the works from Virgin Galactic that would travel at speeds of Mach 3.
A rendering of a passenger aircraft in the works from Virgin Galactic that would travel at speeds of Mach 3.

Virgin Galactic unveiled an initial design concept for a supersonic passenger aircraft, which it expects to fly at approximately Mach 3, and has entered into an agreement with engine marker Rolls Royce for the development of the aircraft. 

The plane would have capacity for nine to 19 passengers and would fly at an altitude of above 60,000 feet, the company said.

"The design philosophy of the aircraft is geared around making high speed travel practical, sustainable, safe, and reliable, while making customer experience a top priority," the company said. "Virgin Galactic is designing the aircraft for a range of operational scenarios, including service for passengers on long-distance commercial aviation routes."

The aircraft would take off and land like any other passenger aircraft and be expected to integrate into existing airport infrastructure and international airspace around the world."

The agreement with Rolls Royce is a nonbinding memorandum of understanding.

Virgin Galactic has also engaged the FAA. The company said that last week that the FAA's Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation authorized agency resources to work with Virgin Galactic to outline a certification framework for the supersonic aircraft.

At Mach 3, the aircraft would travel far faster than other civil supersonic aircraft under development.

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