8 March 2002

New plane may plug hole in the ozone layer

By Paul Marston, Transport Correspondent

A new breed of airliners could help reduce the hole in the Earth's ozone layer.

Boeing is designing the Sonic Cruiser to operate at 42,000-50,000ft, within the lower levels of the ozonosphere. It will be fitted with sensors to monitor the ozone layer and could eventually be used to release replacement ozone.

Boeing hopes it will be flying within six years at just under the speed of sound, saving an hour per 3,000 miles flown on current airliners.

Environmentalists are sceptical about Boeing's plans.

Friends of the Earth said: "Trying to tinker with this huge problem by adding yet more chemicals into the Earth's environment could make matters worse."