In 2015, we can already fly almost anywhere on the planet in reasonable time and with relative comfort. According to airline industry expert Sir Richard Branson, however, we are capable of taking our fastest mode of travel to the next level. Believe it or not, flying from Australia to London at impossibly fast speed on an eco-friendly plane may be the future of aviation.
According to the Virgin Airlines founder, who is in Australia for a series of motivational lectures, there was little more airlines could do in-flight to enhance the experience for passengers.
“We do hope to one day fly Australia to London in two to three hours,” said Sir Richard, whose Virgin Galactic is developing aircraft for space flight. “It will most likely happen in my children’s lifetime but I really like to think it will happen, and I think it will be in quite an environmentally friendly way. That’s going to be an exciting future.”
Sir Richard said that safety, service and comfort was reaching an unsurpassable high. The only way to improve now, he said, was to go faster and have less impact on the environment.
Already, the manufacture of carbon composite aircraft, like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, had helped reduce fuel burn by 25 per cent and allowed airlines to fly more cheaply.
“That will hopefully keep ticket prices down,” Sir Richard said. “We’re still working on trying to develop fuels that will not damage the environment and if possible fuels that price-wise are competitive with dirty fuels.”
Although faster flights would mean “fewer films”, Sir Richard admitted greater speed was desirable for many passengers. He also added that Australian travellers had Virgin to thank for raising standards in the domestic airline industry and forcing Qantas to become more competitive.
“I’d definitely come to Australia more often if I could do it within two to three hours,” he said. “But flying on planes is not the chore that it used to be.”