Virgin Galactic Holdings has unveiled a 19-passenger Mach 3 high-speed aircraft design and has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with Rolls-Royce to collaborate in designing and developing engine propulsion technology for high-speed commercial aircraft. The announcement follows the successful completion of its Mission Concept Review (MCR) program and authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation to work with Virgin Galactic to outline a certification framework. George Whitesides, chief space officer, Virgin Galactic said, “We are excited to complete the Mission Concept Review and unveil this initial design concept of a high-speed aircraft, which we envision as blending safe and reliable commercial travel with unrivaled customer experience. SEE: Tom’s excellent adventure on Qatar Airways “We are pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls-Royce as we strive to develop sustainable, cutting-edge propulsion systems for the aircraft, and we are pleased to be working with the FAA to ensure our designs can make a practical impact from the start. We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high-speed travel.” Rolls-Royce North America chairman and chief executive Tom Bell said that Rolls is “excited to partner with Virgin Galactic to explore the future of sustainable high-speed flight.” “Rolls-Royce brings a unique history in high-speed propulsion, going back to the Concorde, and offers world-class technical capabilities to develop and field the advanced propulsion systems needed to power commercially available high-Mach travel.” The Mission Concept Review included representatives from NASA, and is an important program milestone at which the Virgin Galactic high-speed team confirmed that, based on the research and analysis work completed, its design concept can meet the high-level requirements and objectives of the mission. Earlier NASA signed a Space Act Agreement with Virgin Galactic to collaborate on high speed technologies. The parameters of the initial high-speed aircraft design include a targeted Mach 3 certified delta-wing aircraft that would have the capacity for 9 to 19 people at an altitude above 60,000 feet and would also be able to incorporate custom cabin layouts to address customer needs, including Business or First-Class seating arrangements. Virgin Galactic said that the design philosophy of the aircraft is geared around making high speed travel practical, sustainable, safe, and reliable while making customer experience a top priority. It said that it is designing the aircraft for a range of operational scenarios, including service for passengers on long-distance commercial aviation routes. The aircraft would take off and land like any other passenger aircraft and be expected to integrate into existing airport infrastructure and international airspace around the world.