Ever since the retirement of Concorde, the aviation industry has looked forward to the rebirth of civilian supersonic air travel. The question is, will it be an airliner or something else? Spike Aerospace is betting that it will be a business jet – to be specific, the Spike Aerospace S-512 supersonic jet, which was unveiled as a concept in 2013. The company has now released its latest design.

If it gets off the ground, the S-512 will be the fastest business aircraft ever built. At a cost of US$60 to $80 million, it's design to carry up to 18 passengers at a cruising speed of Mach 1.6 (1,220 mph/1,963 km/h) and a maximum speed of Mach 1.8 (1,370 mph/2,205 km/h). In practical terms, that means London to New York in three hours. In addition, Spike is looking to do away with conventional port holes and replacing them with digital screens running the length of the cabin.

Spike says that the latest changes to the S-512 are a balancing act between safety, performance and cost-effectiveness. Changes in range, payload, speed, fuel efficiency, comfort and sonic booms all have an impact on one another. In addition, input from the sales team, which uses information from potential customers, introduces more tradeoffs against marketability.

The latest version of the S-512 replaces the old wings with a modified delta wing. This features a highly-swept leading edge for better aerodynamic efficiency by reducing wave drag, and improved flight performance in both low-speed flight and supersonic cruise speeds, as well as improved fuel efficiency. The new wing also allowed the engineers to remove the horizontal tail for another reduction in weight and drag. Spike says that additional changes will be released as the design phase continues.

"Flying supersonic is clearly the future of aviation," says Spike CEO and President Vik Kachoria. "It makes the world smaller and more accessible. For any competitive global business, cutting flight times in half will have significant value. But for people who have busy global lives and want to spend time with the people they love, the Spike S-512 supersonic jet will be a necessity."

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