New York to Paris in 90 Minutes? Yup

Written by Jason Simpkins
Posted November 18, 2022

There’s a company out there right now that wants to ferry commercial air passengers from New York to Paris in an hour and a half. 

It’s called Hermeus, and it just conducted another breakthrough test.

Working at the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory in Indiana, the company’s engine, Chimera, switched between turbojet and ramjet power — an absolute first for a commercial company.

But that’s just one more step toward Hermeus’ ultimate goal of making hypersonic travel a reality for the wealthy and well-connected.

You see, the was founded in 2019 and it’s gotten some notable attention since then…

In 2020, it won a $1.5 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to develop a hypersonic plane capable of carrying the president. 

hypersonic president plane

By hypersonic, of course, we mean a jet capable of flying faster than five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5.

To put that in perspective, the record for the fastest manned aircraft flight is Mach 6.7 (4,520 mph), set in 1967 by the X-15. However, that was effectively a rocket with a seat, specifically designed to set the record. It also had to be launched from a B-52 bomber.

So a better comparison — an air-breathing aircraft powered by jet engines rather than a rocket — would be the SR-71 Blackbird, which traveled at Mach 3.3

And when it comes to commercial passenger flight, you’d have to turn to the Concorde, which flew at Mach 2.04 (1,350 mph) with enough seats for 100 passengers.

The Hermeus plane, should it succeed, would torch them both. 

No doubt, time is precious and often crucial to high-ranking government officials. So a plane that can scoot halfway around the world in a few hours would be a major asset. 

However, this isn’t just a luxury for VIPs.

Hermeus intends to monetize its plane by carrying business-class passengers 20 at a time. That, the company says, would be enough to make it profitable at current ticket price levels.

It would have enough range to fly from New York to Paris but not trans-Pacific routes like Los Angeles to Tokyo. And routes over land, like New York to LA, would be out of the question because of noise regulations. That is, breaking the sound barrier creates an incredibly jarring sonic boom that would have to occur over water.

That affordability is achievable because the plane itself is shockingly inexpensive. Its engine uses an off-the-shelf J85 turbojet for its base, and 15% of its parts are 3D printed.

As a result, its total cost is just $18 million, which is chump change for this kind of technology. 

Of course, the plane itself is still a ways off, as Hermeus doesn’t expect to conduct its first test flight until 2029.

It’s also a private company, so investors can’t buy in directly. 

However, some of its competitors and collaborators are publicly held, and like Hermeus, they’re also raking in some fat government contracts. 

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has developed and flown more supersonic vehicles than any other U.S. company. That includes America’s first supersonic plane, the SR-71 Blackbird, in 1976. 

Capable of reaching speeds exceeding Mach 3, the cutting-edge spy plane could fly from New York to London in less than two hours and outpace any enemy missiles that might be fired its way.

Even today, it’s still the second-fastest manned plane in history.

So it’s no surprise that Lockheed is leading the charge into hypersonics.

Its experimental SR-72 will be twice as fast as its predecessor, operating at a speed of Mach 6 and incorporating lessons learned from Lockheed's Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) — another experimental aircraft that flew at Mach 20, or 13,000 mph, after being launched from a rocket.

Rival defense contractor Raytheon Technologies (NYSE: RTX) which also owns commercial aircraft suppliers Pratt & Whitney and Collins Aerospace, is in the hypersonic race too.

In fact, its venture capital group has already taken a stake in Hermeus 

"Hypersonic technologies are of critical importance to national security, which is why we made our first investment in a company with such a bold plan and vision in this space," said Daniel Ateya, managing director of RTX Ventures. "Hermeus' technical approach and business plan balances near-term defense applications with long-term commercial aspirations and will help our customers reimagine the possibilities of hypersonic technologies."

And finally, there’s one company in the hypersonic space that supplies almost every major manufacturer, including the ones I just mentioned. 

Right now it’s even working on a top-secret missile to combat the emerging hypersonic threats from Russia and China. 

You can find out more about that, and how to profit, here.

Fight on,

Jason Simpkins Signature

Jason Simpkins

follow basic@OCSimpkins on Twitter

Jason Simpkins is Assistant Managing Editor of the Outsider Club and Investment Director of Wall Street's Proving Ground, a financial advisory focused on security companies and defense contractors. For more on Jason, check out his editor's page. 

*Follow Outsider Club on Facebook and Twitter.

Heal Your Ailing Portfolio Body