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Supersonic travel will cut flight times, shrink the world

In a few years, it might be possible to fly from Washington, D.C., to Paris in four hours — instead of eight — or from San Francisco to Tokyo in just six hours aboard a new crop of supersonic jets.

Why it matters: High-speed air travel promises to shrink the planet, putting far-away vacation destinations within closer reach and enabling business travelers to attend meetings on another continent and return the same day.

The big picture: Affordable, sustainable, high-speed flight has the potential to revolutionize commercial air travel, just as the jet engine did in the late 1950s.

  • Yes, but: Engineers must first solve technical, business and environmental challenges that doomed previous efforts at supersonic travel, most notably the…

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