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UK design and engineering company Reaction Engines has hit the headlines this week with proposals for Lapcat, a hypersonic plane that could fly to Australia from Europe in less than five hours. According to Reaction technical director Richard Varvill, the project will undergo the second phase of feasibility studies later this year. With mooted speeds of up to 4800kph, Lapcat has a 25 per cent chance of entering commercial use, he says.

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