Ryaneverest From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 1115 times:
Monday, 23 April, 2001, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Supersonic flight 'doomed'
By BBC News Online technology correspondent Mark Ward
Keep on packing your paperbacks when you are taking a long-haul
flight because supersonic planes are never going to take off.
Sceptics say plans to use aircraft that fly faster than the speed of
sound to slash journey times are "doomed".
Environmental objections will severely limit the routes the
futuristic planes can fly, making them uneconomic to develop and
Former activists who campaigned against Concorde say any attempts to
run a supersonic service would provoke the same level of protests
that dogged the earlier jet.
Next month Nasa will conduct the maiden test flights of its
futuristic X-43A jet, designed to fly at ten times the speed of
sound. Nasa scientists working on the aircraft said that if it was
used commercially it would be able to fly from London to New York in
But experts say there is little chance that this plane, or any other
supersonic transport jet, will ever be used to set up a commercial
"No future supersonic transport will be anything other than a flop,"
said Richard Wiggs, co-ordinator of the Anti-Concorde Project in the
late 60s and 70s and an expert on the economics of such aircraft.
Mr Wiggs said no countries would let Concorde cause a sonic boom over
their territory which limited it to routes over oceans or wilderness.
While Concorde was being developed, many airlines signed up to buy
the jet, but backed off when it became obvious that it could only fly
a small number of routes.
Originally the Anglo-French partnership developing Concorde had
orders for 200 planes, but this dwindled to none by the time the
aircraft was ready to go into service.
New millennium, old objections
Mr Wiggs said nothing has changed now and few countries would be
willing to let a airliner fly at supersonic speed through their
airspace. "The noise from any size engine capable of driving a
supersonic plane are going to be far outside the limits imposed on
other aircraft operating today," he said.
The failure of Concorde caused the Russians to stop development of
its Tu-144 and the US Congress to cease funding for its supersonic
"The climate of public opinion throughout the world will be very much
more unfavourable to the introduction of such machines now than it
was 30-40 years ago," he said.
John Stewart, head of the Heathrow Association for the Control of
Aircraft Noise that represents people living under the flight path at
Heathrow, said people really start to object when the number of
planes using an airport increases and noise becomes constant.
"Our members describe living on the Heathrow flight path like living
under a sky of sound," he said, adding that they would be unwilling
to swap this for "a sky of supersonic sound."
Mr Wiggs said it was more than just complaints about noise that
limited Concorde's appeal to the world's airlines. He added that
worries about the pollution caused by supersonic jets, thought
eccentric in the 1960s, are now much better understood.
A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which
has the job of estimating who is contributing what to global change,
estimates the air industry contribution at about 3.5%.
But if a significant number of supersonic jets went into service,
this contribution would be far higher, said Tim Johnson, director of
the Aviation Environment Federation, which monitors pollution caused
by the air industry.
"If there was another generation of supersonic aircraft and there
were 1000 of them flying by 2050, the climate impact would be five
times greater," said Mr Johnson. Because supersonic jets fly at much
higher altitude than subsonic aircraft, the pollution they pump out
has a far more damaging effect, he said.
Mr Johnson doubted that a supersonic aircraft could be built which
could overcome both the noise and pollution problems caused by a
large fleet of such craft.
Mr Wiggs said Boeing announced plans to create a Sonic Cruiser that
would fly near, rather than beyond, the speed of sound. "Boeing has
done its sums better this time than in the 1960s and realised it
could not be a money maker for them," he said.
Jet_lag From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 2, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 994 times:
It's not the speed that's the problem, but the infant technology. Just compare the
noise generated by a 727-200 to low, quiet rumble of the 717. As the engines get better,
supersonic flight will become more economical.
Flyf15 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 4, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 984 times:
One problem is flying portion of travelling is just one part. Checkin lines, weather delays, getting to the airport, etc... aren't ever going to go "supersonic" So, overall travel time will not be affected as much as it may seem.
Corey777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 5, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 973 times:
I think as the technology matures, it will become more affordable/safer/eviromentally friendly, etc. but for right now, subsonic passenger planes reign supreme. Though imagine saying to your kids (while you fly JFK-LHR in a subsonic a/c), "when I was your age, we had planes that could go JFK-LHR in three hours."
Passenger From Italy, joined May 2011, 1 posts, RR: 0 Reply 6, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 962 times:
So what if it seems backwards. Your comments sound very clever and all but, the fact is that even though it is "backwards" as you say, it's the truth. Personally, I don't need supersonic transport in my daily life. Just becuase aviation enthusiasts want it becuase it's "cool" and "awesome" and thrills their hobby interest doesn't mean it's viable or nessecary.
RayChuang From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 7860 posts, RR: 5 Reply 7, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 932 times:
In fact, I think once the Airbus A380 is established in service by 2010 there will be renewed interest in a supersonic transport travelling at Mach 2.2 that can fly from LAX to NRT non-stop.
People forget that when Boeing worked with NASA on the High-Speed Civil Transport (HSCT) program, they determined that the technology is available to build a plane that can fly LAX-NRT with 300 passsengers at Mach 2.2, but with new technology engines that not only easily meet the ICAO Stage III noise rules but also reduce a major issue of NOx emissions from engine exhaust. The only reason why Boeing didn't go ahead with a serious develpment program was the fact that development costs was US$18 billion in 1998 dollars.
I personally believe that with improving engine developments over the next decade we may see serious consideration to build something like HSCT. I mean let's face it: who wouldn't want to fly LAX to SYD in half the time of today's 747-400's, even if the plane has to stop at HNL to refuel? And since future SST designs will very likely have engines that will even meet the proposed ICAO Stage IV rules that will go into effect in 2006, the plane could operate from anywhere on the US East Coast to any airport in western Europe. That means instead of a 10 hour flight between MIA and LHR we could do it in 5 hours.
NoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7889 posts, RR: 13 Reply 9, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 915 times:
Even if technology improves subsonic engines will remain much more environmentally responsible and economic.
>>Personally, I don't need supersonic transport in my
>>daily life. Just becuase aviation enthusiasts want it becuase it's "cool" and >> "awesome" and thrills their
>> hobby interest doesn't mean it's viable or nessecary.
True. And those who formerly have choosen the Concorde for transatlantic flights are still alive - they just don't continue to put two working days into one. I think it is very likely that businessmen/women will sooner or later make use of the Internet more frequent instead of booking a flight. Streaming video via the net is even faster than supersonic planes are.
Ryaneverest From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 10, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 910 times:
At the present stage of technology in supersonic transport, as in the Concorde, it is very fuel inefficient to cruise at low speeds. Hence it makes sense only when the route taken is mostly over water. And yes we have the Internet now and we won't even need to travel to another country to do business. Signals over the phone line are 0.9 times the speed of light.
Buff From Australia, joined Mar 2007, 0 posts, RR: 1 Reply 12, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 876 times:
The point of the original article is that supersonic aircraft will never be allowed to overfly populated areas because of their sonic footprint, i.e. "boom", thus severely restricting their point-to-point utility.
Regardless of the noise created by the engines (I'm hard pressed to hear the whine of RB211's at FL390 while I'm on the ground), the sonic "boom" is so far unescapable. There is research being carried out in an effort to "contain" the "boom", but to apply any positive results to an airliner sized craft is decades away.
It is going to be interesting over the next twenty years to watch manufacturers try to make the quantum leap to the next generation of flight, the last being the invention of the jet-engine more than 50 years ago.
Just my opinion on thoughts generated by Ryaneverest!
TurboTristar From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 13, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 863 times:
I am sad to say this, they are probably right. There will always be people protesting the sonic booms. So then will commercial airplanes always fly under the speed of sound? We have the technology, but we can't use it. When are civil aircraft going to fly at Mach 3 or 4 or higher?
Cedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 7804 posts, RR: 54 Reply 14, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 862 times:
Please guys, understand a few basic facts. Jet-lag and Yehaw are wrong to think the engines have anything to do with SST noise problems. God preserve me from idiots like the Heathrow Noise Protest Blah Blah Group - it's not the engines that make a noise, it's the shock wave caused by the airframe goind faster than the speed of sound. You could shut the engines down and glide, and the sonic boom would be every bit as loud if you're flying faster than Mach 1. Those morons who live under a "sky of sound" (why the hell did they move there in the first place?) aren't going to live under a "supersonic sky of sound", does Concorde approach runway 28L at 1000mph? If one ever did, there wouldn't be a problem getting the land for Terminal 5 (or 6, 7 and 8 for that matter) because it'd all be flattened.
I don't think there will ever be another supersonic transport aircraft (other than a bizjet, why that hasn't already happened is a mystery) but these arguments are just as ill-informed as they were when Concorde first flew. I couldn't believe some residents somewhere protested the A380 on the grounds that it would "blot out the whole sky". The good people of Boston put forward the same argument against the 747 back in the 60s. Different millenium, same bullshit.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
Hepkat From Austria, joined Aug 2000, 2341 posts, RR: 2 Reply 15, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 850 times:
I'm astounded! Haven't we learned anything from history? How can anyone confidently make the statement, that supersonic transport will NEVER become environmentally and economically viable? Have we forgotten the technological impossibilities humanity has triumphantly overcome? Remember back in the days when EVERYONE thought it was impossible to fly? "You'll never fly like a bird", they said...."you're meddling with Nature...", "God will strike you out of the sky...", etc... None of that prevented us from flying.
Or who can forget the problem with pressurization? That was soon overcome. Then there was the problem with the engines. That was soon solved with the discovery of jet propulsion. I could go on and on and on with a long list of inventions that have done away with fears. If anything, we should be saying "Never say never." Just be patient. One day we WILL discover how to manufacture engines capable at traveling 10x the speed of sound. And you better believe it, that someone, somewhere will also discover how to travel at the speed of sound while avoiding the sonic boom, or at least controlling it.
This reminds me of a funny anecdote I read a while ago about American history. In the early 20th century (1910 or so, I forgot which year exactly), the director of the U.S. Patents office recommended to the President that his department be shut down as a cost saving measure, as "everything had already been invented."
Cedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 7804 posts, RR: 54 Reply 16, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 835 times:
The British, French and Russians proved conclusively that supersonic passenger aircraft are technologically feasible. That's ancient history. But where is the market? There isn't one and there never will be. Otherwise why didn't anyone buy the Concorde?
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
NoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7889 posts, RR: 13 Reply 17, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 823 times:
> How can anyone confidently make the statement, that supersonic transport > will NEVER become environmentally and economically viable?
No one here doubts that invention and improvements continue to go on.
But what never will be invented is a perpetuum mobile. So engines will always burn whatever sort of fuel - the more the faster planes go. This means a supersonic flight will always be less environmentally and economically viable then a subsonic flight.
And do you think people will lower theier opposition against sonic booms in future? Probably not.
Hepkat From Austria, joined Aug 2000, 2341 posts, RR: 2 Reply 18, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 815 times:
NoUFO, remember a few years ago when the fastest computers ran at 233Mhz? And when hard disks were at max 512Mb? And who could forget those bulky monitors weighing 10kg? Oh yes, back then everybody knew that we had ALREADY reached what was technologically feasible, and no one in their wildest dreams could have imagined what the future would bring. Now computers routinely clock past 1000Mhz with appalling ease, you can't get a hard disk less than 20Gb anymore, and yes, now computer monitors come in new, 2 inch thick, pollution and emission free versions (to my cat's great displeasure!).
The lesson from this? You're thinking in terms of today's technology of jet propelled engines drinking gas. In the future there might be entirely different types of engines, which use entirely different fuels. Compare engines from the beginning of flight to the engines of today. HUGE difference I would say!
And regarding sonic booms, well, 80 years ago, talk of flying at 40,000ft in the air was crazy too, but somehow now we're doing it. In the future we'll figure out how to avoid sonic booms too.
Hepkat From Austria, joined Aug 2000, 2341 posts, RR: 2 Reply 19, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 810 times:
Also, speaking of what is environmentally viable, don't forget that nowadays we are discovering alternative ways of fueling engines. One that comes to mind is liquid hydrogen, which gives off a wallop of energy, and whose only emission is water and oxygen. They're already trying this out on cars in Germany (saw this on a CNN special).
Lowfareair From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 20, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 805 times:
I think that it is very clever how the author uses those environmental groups as the only quotes in the entire article. I could say that flights from Boston Hanscom would have never taken off two years ago by using quotes from the same groups in Boston.
Cedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 7804 posts, RR: 54 Reply 21, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 790 times:
Look, there simply isn't any point - the saving in time doesn't justify the development cost. No-one flies from airport to airport, there are connecting flights, ground holds, appalling surface transport problems to overcome. London to NY, LA to Tokyo, great. But Oxford to Pittsburg, Palm Springs to Pusan, how much time are you going to save overall by doing one leg of the journey in half the time? Ooh, about 12%. Worth it to a very few, unquestionably. But to about 97% of the travelling public, it's not worth it. Just cos you cross the Pacific in 5 instead of 9 hours, you're still going to have a night's sleep at the destination before going into that meeting. Or if you're on holiday, if there's any difference between price (subsonic vs supersonic), you'll take the slower plane and have some extra spending money at the destination.
Anyway, Boeing are the ones who insist that point-to-point is the way to go, and they're building hundreds of 767s and 777s to prove it. Even if they build an SST or even the Sonic Cruiser, those planes will never turn up on flights like Glasgow to Philadelphia or Nice to Atlanta. So do the public want lots of frequency on smaller planes at the most affordable price, or expensive SSTs with connecting flights in CRJs / 737s, with stressful and time consuming connections at congested hubs (which invalidate the time saving anyway)?
PS You guys are underestimating the sonic boom. There may be a way to trick nature but this a very basic law of physics we're talking about and it won't be overcome in our lifetimes. If there is another SST built it'll only fly above Mach 1 over water.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
NoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7889 posts, RR: 13 Reply 22, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 781 times:
> Oh yes, back then everybody knew that we had ALREADY reached what was > technologically feasible.
Definitely not! Product circles in computer technology have always been extra short ...
> In the future we'll figure out how to avoid sonic booms too.
... but even computer technology will never negate the existence of natural laws.
> One that comes to mind is liquid hydrogen, which gives off a
> wallop of energy, and whose only emission is water and oxygen.
Environmental groups could at least claim that water has nothing to do in high altitudes because it supports global warming up there.
Well. Boeing introduced the development of a new supersonic aircraft a couple of weeks ago. As far as I know they did not mention to build the plane when hydrogen driven engines are going to be omnipresent.
Question is: is it the right time to introduce the development of a supersonic aircraft right now or in near future.
RayChuang From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 7860 posts, RR: 5 Reply 23, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 770 times:
Remember what Boeing had in mind when it researched the High Speed Civil Transport:
1. It had to meet ICAO Stage III noise rules and not spew out a lot of NOx emissions.
2. It had to carry at least 300 passengers.
3. It had to be able to fly at least LAX-NRT with standard FAR Part 36 fuel reserves.
What Boeing found out was that we do have to technology to pull it off. Remember, Boeing had both Pratt & Whitney and General Electric study new jet engine technologies using what was learned from their participation in the engine competition for the Advanced Technology Fighter and what was learned from today's high-bypass engines. The result was a variable-cycle engine that at low speeds had the noise footprint of a high-bypass engine but at high speeds had enough thrust with four engines to fly at Mach 2.2.
The reason why Boeing chose not to do serious development was its steep cost: US$18 billion in 1998 dollars.
Folks, if you had a plane that could fly LAX-NRT in the same time it takes to fly LAX-JFK in a 767-200, this is a potential winner right there if people are willing to fund it. And because it carries 3x the passenger load of Concorde, it means seat-mile costs are going to be way lower than Concorde.
Indianguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 24, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 759 times:
supersonic travel will never be as comon as subsonic travel because it will still be expensive.
But i definitely see a niche market for such travel.
I dont think environmental regulations wil hamper such aircraft. For one the technology being talked about (SCRAMJETs) requires aircraft to fly very high, almost on the edge of space, too high for the sonic boom effect. So unlike the Concordes these aircraft will be able to travel supersonic over land as well. Also because they fly so high they woul dbe more fuel efficient than the Concordes.
Joni From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 25, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 733 times:
I think supersonic (meaning supersonic landspeed) filght has a future, but not anytime soon. The reason is simple : drag increases with the square (or cube at these speeds?) of velocity, so supersonic flight will always consume much more fuel than subsonic flight. And for the larger fuel mass, the tanks will weigh more, requiring again more fuel to lift etc. This is true regardless of the level of engine or airframe technology, materials or such.
However, one very interesting idea is ballistic flight. You'd have a high-energy fuel (liquid H for example) and you'd fly in a boost-glide mode, most of the time being practically outside the atmosphere thus eliminating drag and sonic boom. Since the boost phase would be atmospheric, you could liquify air to use as oxidizer. The costs would be much higher than subsonic flight, but you'd travel at Mach 20. If you have an abundant source of clean energy (solat or fusion) you could make the LH2 from seawater and produce only steam as you burn it. The technology for this is, of course, substantially more demanding and the margins narrower than for subsonic flight - so the costs would be concorde-like.