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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 November, 2003, 17:46 GMT
Firm considers 'son of Concorde'
EADS plans to build a successor to Concorde could take off
A successor to supersonic jet Concorde is being considered by aerospace giant EADS, the group has confirmed.

The European firm is looking into developing a hypersonic jet with Japanese partners, a London-based spokesman said.

Chief executive Philippe Camus unveiled the plans at an aerospace industry event in Japan last week, French newspaper reports said.

However, the spokesman added no firm timescale was in place for replacing Concorde, which retired last month.

The hypersonic plane would be able to travel at twice the speed of Concorde, meaning it could fly between Paris and Tokyo in two hours, Mr Camus told the French newspaper Liberation.

He added that the market was not currently able to support the launch of a commercial programme, but there was currently "collaboration" between Europe and Japan on engines for the jet.

"Working groups are considering it," he said.

Japan talks

EADS would be well placed to develop such a project.

The group is Europe's biggest aerospace company and the second largest worldwide - employing more than 100,000 people at 70 production sites worldwide.

The company, which relies heavily on its core Airbus operations, was formed July 2000 and is listed on the French, German and Spanish stock exchanges.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Express reported that EADS has started talks with Japanese manufacturers and Miti - Japan's trade ministry - to develop the jet.

The aircraft would be capable of flying 7,000 miles non-stop and would carry 300 passengers, triple the capacity of Concorde.

Reports also claim the jet's noise levels would be far lower than those of Concorde - which led to the plane being unable to fly certain routes - and much more similar to those of a Boeing 747 which would enable it to operate far more widely.

Concorde made its final commercial passenger flight for British Airways between London and New York on 23 October.

Famous aircraft

Air France, the only other airline to operate the jet commercially, withdrew it from service in May.

Japan's last supersonic jet test ended in failure
The companies decided to retire the famous aircraft after 27 years because it was no longer profitable.

However, previous plans for a Concorde rival have failed to get off the ground, which may give EADS some food for thought.

In 2002, Boeing said it was shelving plans for a "sonic cruiser" which would carry passengers at almost the speed of sound.

The jet had been touted as a competitor for Airbus's A380 Superjumbo, which with its passenger seat capacity of 555 will be the world's largest commercial passenger jet when it starts flying next year.

Boeing executives decided they would not be able to sell the aircraft in market conditions geared towards efficiency - one of the reasons behind Concorde's retirement.

Meanwhile, Japan recently suffered a huge setback last summer when a test for a model of a planned supersonic passenger jet ended in failure.

A scale model of the aircraft crashed to the ground shortly after take-off at a test site in South Australia.

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