SEATTLE Boeing Co., which developed the fastest jetliner, is mulling a new commercial airplane that could fly nearly the speed of sound.
Boeing spokeswoman Barbara Murphy confirmed yesterday that the company is looking at the concept, referred to internally as "Yellowstone," but declined to give specifics.
No decision has been made on whether to actually develop the aircraft.
The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified sources, reported that the jet would be capable of traveling at Mach 0.95. Mach 1 is the speed of sound.
The jet would carry 200 to 300 people as far as7,000 miles, similar to Boeings two-engine 767s, the Journal said.
The fastest subsonic commercial jet is Boeings 747-400, which can fly at Mach 0.92 but cruises at Mach 0.85, or more than 500 mph.
The Concorde supersonic jet can fly twice the speed of sound and crosses the Atlantic at 1,350 mph. The Anglo-French plane has been grounded since an Air France Concorde crashed on July 25, killing all 109 people on board and four people on the ground.
Murphy said Boeing constantly studies new designs and materials for possible future use under its 20XX program.
"Thats what the Boeing Co. does to stay at the forefront of new developments, new technologies and new innovations," she said.
She said Yellowstone is part of the 20XX and the P-2 research programs.
Boeing has long studied a possible new supersonic transport, but breakthroughs in materials and engine performance need to be made for the aircraft to be economically practical, she said.
"We do not see, at this point, anything on the horizon that is going to change this problem with faster speed and poorer economics," Murphy said.
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