548697-airbusAirbus hopes to build a passenger plane with a completely transparent fuselage. Picture: Airbus

BOEING Australia boss Ian Thomas says the Airbus’ “invisible” concept plane is interesting, but Australian passengers are keener to make it to New York in 12 minutes.

Speaking in Brisbane on Thursday, Mr Thomas outlined his vision of supersonic scramjet engines, space travel and nanotechnology.

The company’s largest rival, Airbus, is developing the ability for the fuselage on some of its aircraft to become invisible.

The futuristic design will allow travellers to look down on cities and landscapes below.

“Invisible airplanes and see-through airplanes are all very interesting, but I’d rather get to New York in 12 minutes,” Mr Thomas told the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce.

Teamed with University of Queensland (UQ) researchers, Boeing Research and Technology Australia is part of an international consortium developing scramjet-based access-to-space systems.

The project aims to develop systems for an autonomous scramjet vehicle capable of flying at Mach 8, or 8600km/h.

Scramjet concepts will be tested at even greater speeds, up to Mach 14, in UQ’s world-class hypersonic ground-test facilities.

But commercial passengers will have to wait a while before Mach 1 travel becomes the norm, let alone Mach 14.

Instead of building a supersonic commercial airplane, Mr Thomas said Boeing most recently decided to bulk manufacture the slower, but more fuel efficient, 787 Dreamliner.

With a top speed of Mach 0.85, the aeroplane has a range of about 15,000km and carries about 280 passengers.

The decision has paid dividends, he said, with the Dreamliner now becoming the fastest selling jetliner in history with more than 840 orders from 56 airlines, including 50 for Qantas.

“The market really wanted something that was more fuel efficient and more economically viable,” Mr Thomas said.

“I’m not sure many of us are able to spend another $10,000 or $20,000 to arrive a few hours early.