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Why Was The Sonic Cruiser Aborted?  
User currently offlineRootsAir From Costa Rica, joined Feb 2005, 4186 posts, RR: 40
Posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 4947 times:

I know this question has come up several times. I looked in the Archives and could find no constructive threads about the fiasco.

What were the main reasons for aborting the project. was it because not enough airlines were interested.

its true that from an esthetical point of view it was horrific but who knows, it may have been an amazing plane !


A man without the knowledge of his past history,culture and origins is like a tree without roots
26 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 18
Reply 1, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 4940 times:

It wasn't aborted. It evolved into the 787.

And remember that looks are both highly subjective and have no influence at all on a goahead decision.
Very few people (except in the general aviation market where the folly is present) buy aircraft because of how they look.



I wish I were flying
User currently offlineZvezda From Lithuania, joined Aug 2004, 10511 posts, RR: 64
Reply 2, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 4928 times:

No, the Sonic Cruiser did not evolve into the B787. Boeing did four design studies, two of which were supersonic and the other two were the Sonic Cruiser and the B7E7. Prior to 9/11, the Sonic Cruiser generated the most interest from the airlines. Following the 9/11, the B7E7 received the most interest from the airlines.

With fuel costs above the lows of the last several years, IFE improvements, onboard Internet, and more comfortable seating, the demand for faster airliners has diminished.


User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8060 posts, RR: 54
Reply 3, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 4903 times:

Quoting Zvezda (Reply 2):
Prior to 9/11, the Sonic Cruiser generated the most interest from the airlines

Rubbish! No-one was interested in the Sonic Cruiser, ever. I remember Boeing wheeled Branson out at a press conference to express his strong interest in the project: "Virgin Atlantic is excited to be involved in this great new plane. We plan to order three." Three? That's it?! Boy, that's pretty lukewarm excitement. At best.



fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 4, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 4856 times:

Apart from Fuel Economy would'nt Flying faster to a destination be of interests to Airlines.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offline777ER From New Zealand, joined Dec 2003, 12082 posts, RR: 18
Reply 5, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4825 times:
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FORUM MODERATOR

Airlines wanted fuel savings over speed

User currently offlineMariner From New Zealand, joined Nov 2001, 25012 posts, RR: 85
Reply 6, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4813 times:
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Quoting 777ER (Reply 5):
Airlines wanted fuel savings over speed

The cost of fuel was not an issue at the time that Boeing was promoting the Sonic Cruiser. The price of oil did not begin it's rise to the stratosphere until (about) 18 months ago.

Basically, Cedarjet has it right - no one wanted the aircraft.

cheers

mariner



aeternum nauta
User currently offlineAA767400 From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 2333 posts, RR: 26
Reply 7, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4811 times:

Quoting RootsAir (Thread starter):
What were the main reasons for aborting the project. was it because not enough airlines were interested.

You answered your own question, that plus I don't think it would be put onto the GVA-SJO route anytime soon.   

[Edited 2005-05-13 14:06:40]

[Edited 2005-05-13 14:07:43]


"The low fares airline."
User currently offlineFlySSC From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 7403 posts, RR: 57
Reply 8, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4757 times:

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 1):
It wasn't aborted. It evolved into the 787

 rotfl   rotfl   rotfl 

The 787 is everything but an evolution of the "chronic sucker" !

The Sonic cruiser was just the biggest Aviation joke of the decade.


User currently offlineTsnamm From United States of America, joined May 2005, 628 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4744 times:

airline interest in the project was lukewarm at best...especially the R&D costs that would have to be p/u by the carriers buying it, the market for the plane wouldn't cover the costs of purchase /operation...there's another thread here concerning SST issues and this belongs w/that...the difference between the technology costs of a true SST or one that flys "right up next to the sound barrier" is not low enough for airlines to take such a large financial risk...basically same problem....

User currently offlineExFATboy From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 2974 posts, RR: 9
Reply 10, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 4638 times:

The Sonic Cruiser would have been faster, but not so much faster that high-end passengers would have been willing to pay a large premium to fly on it, as they were happily willing to do to fly on Concorde.

User currently offlineB2707SST From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 1369 posts, RR: 59
Reply 11, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 4567 times:

Quoting Cedarjet (Reply 3):
Rubbish! No-one was interested in the Sonic Cruiser, ever. I remember Boeing wheeled Branson out at a press conference to express his strong interest in the project: "Virgin Atlantic is excited to be involved in this great new plane. We plan to order three." Three? That's it?! Boy, that's pretty lukewarm excitement. At best.

"The Boeing Co.'s proposed sonic cruiser would be a good fit for Delta Air Line's future fleet needs, the carrier's new president said yesterday.

"In principal, we are very, very excited about the sonic cruiser," Fred Reid, who was named the airline's president and chief operating officer yesterday, said in a telephone interview."

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/21315_boeing031.shtml


"Singapore Airlines (SIA) chief executive Dr Cheong Choong Kong – SIA is launch customer for the A380 – confirmed Boeing had spoken to the carrier and it had been “encouraged to proceed” with the project. Dr Cheong pointed out the jet would likely be ideally suited to routes with a high share of business passengers who would pay a premium for faster, non-stop services. Cathay Pacific Airways also has met Mr Mulally and expressed early interest in the concept plane.

American Airlines head Don Carty is enthusiastic about it, too, and said if the price is right he would like AA to be the first airline to fly the sub-sonic cruiser. James Goodwin, boss of United Airlines, also believed there would be a market for a higher-speed aircraft. Air Canada chief executive Robert Milton said Boeing had made the right strategic choice."

http://www.orientaviation.com/pages/...sues/01_05/OA_V8N7_Turbulence.html


There were even rumors that AA wanted to buy out the entire first year's production. Of course, 9/11 and the bursting of the dot.com bubble changed everything, but if the strong-economy cheap-oil environment of the late 1990s had continued, the Sonic Cruiser could have done quite well. Concorde was very profitable during that period.

--B2707SST



Keynes is dead and we are living in his long run.
User currently offlineRsmith6621a From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 194 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 4535 times:

Quoting FlySSC (Reply 8):
Quoting Jwenting (Reply 1):
It wasn't aborted. It evolved into the 787



The 787 is everything but an evolution of the "chronic sucker" !

The Sonic cruiser was just the biggest Aviation joke of the decade.

The 787 evolved from the 767 and yes just like the Sharkstail deception the SonicLoser was just a bunch of Boeing Buzz and Spin.



Did You Ever Think Freedom Could Be this Bad
User currently offlineNorCal From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2459 posts, RR: 5
Reply 13, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 4363 times:

Quoting Rsmith6621a (Reply 12):
The 787 evolved from the 767 and yes just like the Sharkstail deception the SonicLoser was just a bunch of Boeing Buzz and Spin.

Let it go, no one but a couple of anet people care, or will even remember that the 787 had a shark tail in the concept drawings. No airline will cancel orders b/c of a lack of a sharktail. "Buzz and Spin" is used to sell just about anything from airplanes to politicians. If you are pissed off about buzz and spin, you might as well kill yourself or hide in a hole b/c it surrounds you in every day life.


User currently offlineAR385 From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 6141 posts, RR: 30
Reply 14, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 4298 times:
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The Sonic Cruiser was Boeing's smoke screen to Airbus to develop the 787. The thing is, it lasted longer than they had planned because of 9/11, but it's an interesting industrial strategy case.


MGGS
User currently offlineAeroPiggot From United States of America, joined May 2005, 283 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 4255 times:

Quote:
No, the Sonic Cruiser did not evolve into the B787. Boeing did four design studies, two of which were supersonic and the other two were the Sonic Cruiser and the B7E7. Prior to 9/11, the Sonic Cruiser generated the most interest from the airlines. Following the 9/11, the B7E7 received the most interest from the airlines.

With fuel costs above the lows of the last several years, IFE improvements, onboard Internet, and more comfortable seating, the demand for faster airliners has diminished.

Zvezda, above has it correct. Boeing was smart enough to carry out Multiple studies. The sonic cruiser was a very exciting project for both engineers as well as the airlines, and Boeing solved all the technical problems to produce that aircraft (Aerodyn, structures, systems, logistics..Etc.). The problem is the airlines could not afford it, and did not see out they could make a profit in that geo-political climate.



A scientist discovers that which exists, an engineer creates that which never was.
User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 962 posts, RR: 51
Reply 16, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 4252 times:

Quoting AR385 (Reply 14):
The Sonic Cruiser was Boeing's smoke screen to Airbus to develop the 787.

What are you talking about? There is only a single sequence of events, and it can be clearly deliniated from Boeing press releases, Boeing publications, and airline reactions. Boeing began a concept known as Yellowstone in 1999, which included four aircraft. Two were supersonic, one was high subsonic, one was typical subsonic.

The high subsonic aircraft appeared very promising. Airlines were interested and speed was right in-line with Boeing's point-based philosophy. How many smoke screens proceeded to the construction of entire fuselage sections? The massive industry down-turn (9/11, SARS, economic dropoff) sharply changed this opinion, and the project was shelved.

It's obvious that airlines' appetite is the low-risk, subsonic aircraft that was a parallel study of the Sonic Cruiser. At that point, all that existed of the SC was research and development, primary definition of the 7E7 didn't begin until the end of 2003. Where can you fit a "smoke screen" into that chronology?

Quoting AR385 (Reply 14):
but it's an interesting industrial strategy case.

Only you think that. There was no smoke screen... it wasn't a strategy at all.


User currently offlineSabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 4236 times:

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 1):
It wasn't aborted. It evolved into the 787.

Please tell me your postal address, I would like to send you some of these:



It is actually a shame that the Sonic Cruiser didn't become reality. I was a big fan of this (concept) aircraft because it was designed to reduce travel times on certain long haul routes, I am not a big fan of flying 18 hours nonstop!

Patrick


User currently offlineJet-lagged From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 872 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 4218 times:

Quoting RootsAir (Thread starter):
about the fiasco

Sonic Cruiser was a stupid name. Sounds cool, but when you think about it, it doesn't make sense.

But . . . I don't think it is appropriate to call it a fiasco. Boeing was pushing the envelope with a real game-changer - speed, configuration, and use of materials. But following more studies and testing and consideration by their customers, a consensus developed that it really wasn't appropriate after all. You can't do that based on a couple of drawings. That takes lots of work, some money, a lot of communications, and time.

Many learnings around components and composites were I believe incorporated into the 7E7-->787 offering. And the sonic cruiser concept was prudently cancelled rather than push ahead based on emotion or ego. Boeing was doing what commercial airlines manufactures are supposed to do. Unless they were knowingly pushing marketing puff they never intended to make, you shouldn't call that a fiasco.


User currently offlineFriendlySkies From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 4105 posts, RR: 5
Reply 19, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 4200 times:

Quoting Rsmith6621a (Reply 12):
The 787 evolved from the 767 and yes just like the Sharkstail deception the SonicLoser was just a bunch of Boeing Buzz and Spin.



User currently offlineTatfsn From United States of America, joined May 2005, 25 posts, RR: 4
Reply 20, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 4148 times:

Please bear in mind that while "Sonic Cruiser" and .95 Mach sound exotic and impressive, the reality is that that margin of extra speed translated to all of an hour of time saved per approximately 3000nm.

That means that on a 6000 mile trip you would save all of two hours. While that is a saving of time, is there really that much of a difference between 10 hours and 12 hours on an airplane? Enough of a difference that any saavy business traveller would fork out a premium fare?

Practically, if the flight were delayed due to ATC or weather or other issues beyond the airline's control, that marginal advantage would be negated rather quickly. How to deal with a bunch of irates who demand their "premium" back in such circumstances?

Unlike the 787, the Sonic Cruiser--or any hybrid thereof--would be of little tangible or intangible benefit on any but long haul trips. The Hawaiian Airs, Southwests, Air Trans, Jet Blues, easyJets, etc., would have no use for it. The legacy carriers (Northwest, Continental) would be limited to utilizing them to certain routes to reap the speed advantage--even those excluding trips over the pond--to realize the benefit.

The fuel savings of the 787 would apply and accrue benefits over any route segment that the 767 is currently utilized on; everything from KDTW-LGA to KEWR-NRT. It provides a much more versitile, flexible, and efficient platform than a Sonic Cruiser could ever hope to, for all of its flash and novelty.

Boeing has played it just right, not least in that they are providing just what their customers wanted. It has worked out awfully well, so far!!! Big grin


User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 962 posts, RR: 51
Reply 21, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 4136 times:

Quoting Tatfsn (Reply 20):

That means that on a 6000 mile trip you would save all of two hours. While that is a saving of time, is there really that much of a difference between 10 hours and 12 hours on an airplane?

The Mach .95 cruise was a two-fold approach-

First, the fast cruise and 9,000 nm range meant that connections were eliminated and the airplane spent less time in the air. In terms of cruise time, only about 2-3 hours max could be eliminated, but it you eliminate a 2 hour stop-over as well, that's starting to be a good amount of time.

Second, what the 787 is to fuel savings, the Sonic Cruise was to labor savings. Not so long ago, paying the flight crew was more expensive than gasing the airplane up. Reducing the time a crew spent on the clock by 20% and keeping fuel burn on par with existing industry-accepted airplanes (like the 767 and A330) seemed a sound strategy.


User currently offlineKtachiya From Japan, joined Sep 2004, 1792 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4040 times:

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 4):
Apart from Fuel Economy would'nt Flying faster to a destination be of interests to Airlines

Profit Maximization, economies of scale, etc.



Flown on: DC-10-30, B747-200B, B747-300, B747-300SR, B747-400, B747-400D, B767-300, B777-200, B777-200ER, B777-300
User currently offlineAR385 From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 6141 posts, RR: 30
Reply 23, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4029 times:
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DfwRevolution,

Chill down a bit.

I don't know what are you talking about in your timeline. Perhaps you could be more concrete.

I am not the only one who thinks the Sonic Cruiser is/was a smokescreen. I would not propose such an idea in this forum just because it magically came out of my head. It has been said in at least one specialized publication and between a few of my colleagues.



MGGS
User currently offlineAvObserver From United States of America, joined Apr 2002, 2470 posts, RR: 9
Reply 24, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 3986 times:

"I am not the only one who thinks the Sonic Cruiser is/was a smokescreen."

Just because the concept was used as a "spoiler" against the Airbus A380 like its immediate predecessor, the 747X, doesn't mean it wasn't a real developmental effort. Continental's Gordon Bethune had also speculated the higher speed could bring higher yields. With fuel economy roughly equal to a similar capacity 767, even that marginally higher speed would likely have proved popular with business travelers on longer flights where the time savings was more apparent. Even an hour or two could make a difference for many of them, for whom "time is money". Had the airline business, especially for the hard-hit U.S. carriers, not taken such an awful hit on 9/11, it might have been done, though admittedly, even then, it would have been a smaller factor in the mid-size airliner market than the 787. This has been discussed to death but nobody's mind is being changed, they believe what they want to. Fine. Incidentally, the 3 Sonic Cruisers Branson envisioned for Virgin equal the number of Concordes he'd allegedly planned to "buy" (for a song) from British Airways. Perhaps, they were intended for a similar, lower-volume higher speed service (assuming SRB was serious); the Cruiser had already been nixed in favor of the (then) 7E7 when he began to cajole BA to fork over their SSTs. The SC seemed perfectly feasible and attractive for certain markets but at the end of the day, saving fuel, not time, was the overriding priority for the airlines that could even afford to reequip. Boeing had used it as a marketing tool as they had the cancelled 747X because that's all they had at the time to try to steal some of the A380's thunder; a tactic Airbus would also have readily used had the roles been reversed. Many analysts now see the A350 concept (which it still is) as a similar "spoiler" offering though few in here seem to doubt Airbus's intent to develop it. It's not so different in principle.


25 ZKEYE : No doubt Boeing made the right call in not proceeding with the Sonic Cruiser. However had they done so it would be interesting to see the effect that
26 Post contains images Lightsaber : The sonic cruiser was a plane that carried a 767 payload for a 777 fuel burn rate... The economics just weren't there. In this era of $50+++++/bbl oi
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