London to Sydney in 4 hours -- by plane

A much-anticipated new supersonic passenger jet will be capable of flying at five times the speed of sound, according to reports.

Word on the street is that some of the aerospace industry's biggest players -- Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Gulfstream and NASA -- will soon reveal plans for a passenger jet that goes from London to Sydney in four hours.

The unnamed prototype, considered the long-awaited successor to the legendary Concorde airliner, will be unveiled later this month at the Farnborough air show. For now, much of the details are being kept under wraps. But what we do know is that the 'Son of Concorde' plane is aimed at executive business travelers and that won't be ready until at least 2020, according to the Huffington Post. The new planes are designed to seat 12 people and total development costs will run about $80 million.

Aviation enthusiasts have been pining for a next-generation supersonic plane since the Concorde was retired in 2003. The renowned engineering marvel was capable of flying at speeds of 1350 mph, twice the speed of sound. During its 27 years of service, the world's fastest commercial aircraft transported celebrities and the super-wealthy alike across the Atlantic ocean in a mere two hours. However, breaking the sound barrier has the nasty side effect of generating sonic booms, meaning routes had to be flown mostly over bodies of water, which severely limited it's commercial prospects.

Engineers say that they have come up with a way to reduce the loud booms to a something 'closer to a puff or plop' sound. The solution reportedly involves a design with thinner wings and engines that are kept hidden. And with a body that features super lightweight composite materials, advanced engine technology and smaller fuselages, the new plane will be capable of going around to 2,500 mph, about twice as fast as the Concorde.

Obviously anything that cuts down what's typically an all-day flight to just a few hours is pretty darn appealing. But for most, it likely won't be a viable option unless your name happens to be Richard Branson. Let;s hope the parties involved will also have a good business plan in place.

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