Hypersonic plane startup Destinus promises Europe to Australia flights in just 4 hours

Destinus hopes to fly passengers around the world at hypersonic speeds (Destinus)
Destinus hopes to fly passengers around the world at hypersonic speeds (Destinus)

Hypersonic flights could one day take European passengers to Australia in just over four hours, according to a Swiss startup building hydrogen-powered planes.

Destinus, which was established in 2021, is due to test its third prototype this year. This will put the company closer to its goal of running journeys five times faster than the speed of sound.

Martina Löfqvist, Destinus’s business development manager, told CNN last week that the company was aiming to launch a limited-capacity aircraft in the 2030s, which will carry business-class customers. Eventually, a full-scale version could be whizzing customers around the world by the 2040s.

Travelling at Mach 5, a measurement of speed that will make the flights hypersonic rather than merely supersonic, Destinus is relying on its hydrogen fuel to enable longer journeys.

“We try to go very, very ultra-long range with our vehicles,” Löfqvist told CNN. “And that is to fly from Europe all the way to Australia at Mach 5. Using kerosene means that the vehicle would become quite heavy, while hydrogen is very light in comparison.”

The company, which is headquartered in Switzerland but employs people across Spain, France and Germany, is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Mikhail Kokorich.

With a background in physics, the Russian national has founded multiple companies in the aerospace sector, including American space infrastructure group Momentus.

Since raising $29 million (£23 million) last year, the company has added the likes of Spanish astronaut Pedro Duque and French Major General Michel Friedling to its board. Last month, it struck a deal for projects worth €26.7 million with the Spanish government to expand its hydrogen propulsion capabilities.

Destinus has already conducted successful test flights with its first two prototypes, but the newest model will be much heavier and more complex.

The company is not the only one looking to shake up air travel. Other firms such as the US’s Boom Supersonic are also working on reviving supersonic travel, promising London to New York trips that could take as little as 3.5 hours. Meanwhile, French firm Zephalto recently opened booking for a luxury experience on board its stratospheric balloon.