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Why So Many Boeing Concepts Dropped  
User currently offlineVSXA380X800 From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 421 posts, RR: 1
Posted (11 years 4 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 3461 times:

The Sonic Cruiser. It was propose to require some rather substantial improvements in technology to achieve its stated goals of cruising at about Mach 0.95, compared to Mach 0.8 for most commercial airliners, over a range of between 6,000 nm and 10,000 nm (11,120 km to 18,530 km). What airline would want to fly that fast.

The BWB is related to the flying wing, but is a somewhat more sophisticated concept that resulted from a study to determine the optimum low-drag shape to contain a given volume of passenger space. The resulting fuselage resembles a flattened sphere that tapers down and blends into the outboard wings, hence the name Blended-Wing-Body. The thick center-section could hold some 500 to 800 passengers. Additional studies have focused on smaller variants in the 250- to 300-passenger range, and a study indicated that a cruise speed of Mach 0.9 over a range of 7,500 to 8,900 nm (13,875 to 16,465 km)?

Why were those aircrafts (and possibly more we don't know about) dropped?

4 decks 4 engines 4 long haul
18 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineUAL747DEN From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 2392 posts, RR: 11
Reply 1, posted (11 years 4 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 3418 times:

I would think that they were dropped because no airline wanted to pay for it to be built. Boeing was not about to risk the company on an airliner that had no firm interest in a time where most airlines couldn't afford it if they wanted to. Now ANY airline would want a faster aircraft if it was economical, but it takes a lot of money to develop and test an entirely new aircraft.

User currently offlineVSXA380X800 From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 421 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (11 years 4 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 3393 times:

(I'm like a baby when it comes to aviation)

Airlines will have to pay for an aircraft that they want and then have to buy it from that manufacture then have to pay for maintenance causes and other expenses?  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!

That leads to another question, Why did the Concorde even make it off to production ?

4 decks 4 engines 4 long haul
User currently offline707437 From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 152 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (11 years 4 months 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 3345 times:

The Concorde, of which only 14 were sold, was completely subsidized by France and the UK. The only airlines that got them were the national flag carriers Air France and British Airways. It was a great airplane, has yet to be equaled, but it was as much an achievement of engineering as it was a political achievement.

America landed on the Moon, The Soviets had a Space station and UK and France shared the Concorde.

In America the SST program was cancelled when it became apparent that the airlines could not operate it profitably. Boeing was well along with its SST and had to lay off thousands of engineers when it was cancelled. The 747 was supposed to be a passenger jet that would be easily converted to a freighter when the SST was available. Well, the 747 definitely outlived that era.

In the Soviet Union they finished their SST and it was a fine engineering effort but only a few ever served Aeroflot none were built for export and overall it never reached its potential. (You should read up on the Le Bourget crash of the TU-144 and the Mirage III near miss that caused it).

In a nutshell that's about it. . .

User currently offlineZKSUJ From New Zealand, joined May 2004, 7187 posts, RR: 11
Reply 4, posted (11 years 4 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 3246 times:

Just like most things in today's world, it's all about the money. Sure those aircraft would be nice, but what is the point if you don't make any money out of them?.

User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17427 posts, RR: 66
Reply 5, posted (11 years 4 months 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 3170 times:

It's all about the money, but also about the return HORIZON. If investors had been willing to invest money with returns forecasted for 20 years hence, this sort of project would be easier. But of course the risk would still be great.

"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineSafetyDude From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3795 posts, RR: 14
Reply 6, posted (11 years 4 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 3110 times:

If an airline is not going to buy a plane, why make it or plan it when you can use the money for planes that they will buy?


"She Flew For What We Stand For"
User currently offlineRayChuang From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 8246 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (11 years 4 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3057 times:

The main reason why the Sonic Cruiser was dropped was due to the fact the plane didn't offer any serious time-saving advantages even on long-distance flights--and the development costs would have been extremely high indeed.

But all is not lost--from what I read recently in Popular Science Boeing has used its engineering studies on the Sonic Cruiser and applied the very latest in aerodynamic research on eliminating the pressure wave buildup during supersonic flight that causes the loud sonic boom. This could result in a Mach 1.5-1.7 SST seating 200 passengers that could fly as far as 7,000 nautical miles with NO audiable sonic boom on the ground, which means you could fly from the US West Coast to central Europe at supersonic speeds and nobody on the ground will complain.  Smile

User currently offlineIDISA From Italy, joined Jun 2004, 266 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (11 years 4 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 3017 times:

The main reason is that airlines were not interested in investing money on a project which did not grant them a sure return. And if Boeing did not received a good feed-back from airlines, clearly the project dropped...
It's a market's law, it all depends on demand: you can build up an aircraft you believe is the perfect one but if no airline is interested in, why wasting money?


User currently offlineLY4XELD From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 858 posts, RR: 15
Reply 9, posted (11 years 4 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 2988 times:

As for the BWB concept...do you really want to get a middle seat on that plane? There was talk of having a "concourse" on the exterior for pax to have a sense of space, but other than that, a passenger would have little in terms of natural light and it could get quite disorienting IMO. If passengers won't like it, neither will airlines, and neither will Boeing.

That's why we're here.
User currently offlineB2707SST From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 1384 posts, RR: 58
Reply 10, posted (11 years 4 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 2971 times:

Let's not forget that the Sonic Cruiser was proposed before the economy went sour and the 9/11 attacks slammed the air travel industry. During the Roaring Nineties, the airlines were raking in money hand over fist, and they weren't too concerned about a slightly higher fuel burn if they could squeeze more money out of high-margin passengers by offering a faster cruise speed. By 2002, the picture had changed completely. Boeing reacted to the market and came up with a new design, which is a much better idea than stubbornly continuing with an aircraft the airlines don't want.

As far as I know, the BWB was never a serious offering. McDonnell Douglas did some BWB studies during its final years which were further developed by Boeing after the merger, but I don't think they've ever gone further than the concept stage. I don't expect to see a BWB for a long time, as Airbus has the very "stretchable" A380 and Boeing doesn't see any market for a second super-jumbo.

The other on-again off-again project at Boeing is the 747NG, which first saw life as the 747-500/600X in the mid-90s and again in 2000 as the less radical 747X/Stretch program, then as the 747-400XQLR derivative in 2002. Boeing never got a single order, so the aircraft were never built. A "747 Advanced" with some 7E7 technology incorporated seems to be the latest idea floating out of Everett.

Boeing's critics like to bash it for "losing focus" in the past few years, but I don't see anything wrong with presenting various designs to the market and seeing if there are any takers. Airbus does the same thing (e.g. A340-8000, A330-500, A330 'Lite') but just does it a little more discretely. True, Boeing has hit a rough patch with the 747, but they have too much invested in the aircraft to let it die without a fight. I think we'll continue to see Boeing pitching 747 derivatives until one sticks or production of the -400 is completed and the line closes.


Keynes is dead and we are living in his long run.
User currently offlineJeffDCA From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (11 years 4 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 2946 times:

What airline would want to fly that fast.

You are kidding right? Every airline wants to fly as fast as possible. This gives passengers minimum time in the air, and that's what people want these days. Hardly any passengers wants to spend 8+ hours in the air, and having faster aircraft will shorten the time, perhaps dramatically on some routes, this will provide an extra marketing point for the airlines, and thus more ticket sales.

Just look at the Concorde, if it wasn't so expensive to run, and wasn't aimed at Business travel alone, it'd be a huge success, purely and simply because people want to get from A to B in the minimum amount of time possible.



User currently offlineANA From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 294 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (11 years 4 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 2932 times:

The Sonic Cruiser was a spoiler, when Airbus announced the 380 and Boeing had nothing to show themselves.

User currently offlineVSXA380X800 From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 421 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (11 years 4 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 2902 times:

The Concorde, of which only 14 were sold, was completely subsidized by France and British Airways

SQ Owned apart of one or two of British Airways Concordes But I guess that wouldn't count as an aircraft by it self.

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What airline would want to fly that fast.
WouldN'T want to fly......

See, I have this issue that I can't say anything positive about Boeing....................... Now I'm kidding!  Big thumbs up  Big thumbs up  Big thumbs up  Big thumbs up

4 decks 4 engines 4 long haul
User currently offlineN328KF From United States of America, joined May 2004, 6606 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (11 years 4 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 2872 times:

The BWB stuff from Boeing isn't off the table. It's probably just not ready for civil stuff yet. I expect to see this in USAF service before we see it anywhere in civil service.

When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' T.Roosevelt
User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21615 posts, RR: 53
Reply 15, posted (11 years 4 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 2820 times:

The point is not what the manufacturers are thinking about, it´s only what they´re presenting as an official proposal. That´s where Boeing made a few mistakes, apparently; But having more or less exotic concepts in the drawer / on the harddisk is absolutely normal for every manufacturer.

User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13475 posts, RR: 77
Reply 16, posted (11 years 4 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 2763 times:

SQ never owned a Concorde, just that BA operated BAH-SIN sectors operated with SQ flight numbers and 50% of the cabin crew being SIA.
Only OAD had SIA livery on one side only.
That US reg on one of the pics is a temporary reg used on all the fleet in 1979/80 to allow a IAD-DFW sector to be flown (overland at Mach 0.95) by Braniff crews.
Neither airline operated the aircraft in the sense that they fully crewed it, had it in only their livery, maintained it.

User currently offlineKen777 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 9003 posts, RR: 10
Reply 17, posted (11 years 4 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 2756 times:

When you look at the problems:

- dot com bust
- economy heading south
- 9/11

In a lot of games, including plane building, three strikes and you're out.

B was fortunate in one way, they had not advanced any further (spent more money) on the Sonic Cruiser program than they had when everyone pulled the plug. It would have been a huge white elephant if it had gone into production before things hit the fan.

One lesson learned from the Sonic Cruiser is estimating the potential risk of ending up with a white elephant if there are more economic "challenges" for the airline industry. I think that the 7E7 is fairly safe, but have some concerns about the 380 if the industry faces multiple problems like 9/11. I hope to fly both the 7E7 and 380 before I retire and wish both well, but the white elephant risk does concern me.

User currently offlineLnglive1011yyz From Canada, joined Oct 2003, 1627 posts, RR: 14
Reply 18, posted (11 years 4 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2732 times:

The other thing to remember, is that a CONCEPT is just that.. a concept..

If it was something they intended to definitely follow through on, it would be called a PRODUCT.

Concepts are generally thrown out (either blatantly/on purpose, or 'leaked') to gather public response / corporate responses etc....

The Automobile industry is famous for this -- some concept cars you see at an automobile show, come to fruition. Some / most do not..

I think the ideas that Boeing has thrown forward will one day see their light. Some times, it takes YEARS before construction techniques, costing, and parts/labour catch up to the mainstream.

good topic though..


Pack your bags, we're going on a sympathy trip!
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