Despite hype, the new Air Force One won’t be able to fly at the speed of light
Two suites, luxurious furnishings, two bathrooms, capacity for 31 passengers and power to reach speeds of up to 2,222 kilometers per hour. Enough power to break the sound barrier of 1234.8 km / h, but very far from the concept of a superluminal aircraft, that is, an aircraft capable of traveling at the speed of light.
Although it is a recurring resource in many films and science fiction works, that the future president of the United States can travel in an Air Force One more similar to the Millennium Falcon than to a Concorde, it is a fantasy far from our reach in the year 2021 and theoretically impossible according to Einstein.
In fact, the existence of an airplane that was capable of exceeding the speed of light, 300,000 kilometers per second, would break the schemes of Einstein’s relativistic physics, which establishes this speed limit as insurmountable. In a simplified way, the more an object accelerates, the more mass (resistance to motion) it has and the more energy it takes to keep accelerating.
In other words, the amount of energy needed to accelerate a body to the speed of light tends to infinity the closer it gets to it. That is why it is theoretically impossible, according to relativistic physics, that an object can reach this speed, since it would need infinite energy. Something that despite the economic and technological power of the US is impossible.
The US company Exosonic, one of the winners of the contract for the development of the new Air Force One or Air Force Two, has designed a prototype of what will be the plane of a future US president. Considering that this supersonic presidential plane is expected to make its first flight in the mid-2030s, Biden will not be the first president to travel from one end of the world to another in a few hours.
The aircraft’s finishes, CNN showed in a virtual tour offered by the company, include quartz and oak counters, leather seats and a wool and silk carpet. In addition, it will be equipped with the latest technology to be able to hold videoconferences in full supersonic flight, as well as with other specific characteristics that the current presidential Air Force One already has. An adapted Boeing 747-200B, capable of flying in the worst possible scenarios, such as nuclear war.
The two suites that the aircraft will have will be able to host meetings of up to three people who will enjoy swivel seats made of wood and leather. It will also have a larger room to house the president’s closest team and another for guests, press and the rest of the staff.
What is truly new is the boom-softening technology, with which they will avoid one of the biggest problems that this type of aircraft has, the boom or sonic explosions that they cause when breaking the sound barrier. A circumstance that normally forces supersonic military aircraft to reach their maximum speed in non-populated areas. The Exosonic company promises that its aircraft will emit a sound that is quieter than the traffic of a big city.
Since the Concorde stopped flying permanently in 2003, withdrawn influenced by the well-known accident of Air France Flight 4590, several companies have been developing new, safer and more efficient supersonic aircraft, although their presentation and inaugural flights continue to suffer delays.
No matter how much confusion the prototype supersonic plane in which the future US president will travel may have generated, it will not be able to exceed the 250,000 kilometers per hour that the Parker space probe reached on its way to the Sun, nor will it go as far as Voyager 1, the first human-made object to reach interstellar space, no matter how much sound barrier it breaks.