Sonic cruiser will blast off from regional
The Guardian (UK) 05/24/01
author: David Gow
Boeing's new 750mph "sonic cruiser" will use regional airports to avoid
congestion and delays at main hubs such as Heathrow, New York or
Boeing vice-chairman Harry Stonecipher said yesterday the company was
talking to airlines such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates
about flying the cruiser from, say, Manchester to Philadelphia or Dubai to
The proposed plane, generally seen as a belated rival to the Airbus A380
superjumbo since Boeing halted plans for a 600-seater, should cut times
across the Atlantic by 60 to 90 minutes, flying at Mach 0.95, just below the
speed of sound.
Airbus claims the smaller sonic cruiser, due to enter service in 2007, a
year after the A380, would fall foul of outmoded air traffic control systems
and congestion over large airports.
Mr Stonecipher told the Guardian air traffic was growing at 4-6% a year.
"If we have not solved this air traffic management problem by 2007 it
won't matter what kind of aeroplane you've got; you won't be able to sell
He bridled at suggestions that the cruiser was a "back-of-the envelope"
response to the A380: "We're talking to all the airlines' chief executives
and them alone. There's not been a reception for an aeroplane like this
since wide-bodies and even since the jet-age began."
He insisted the rival planes could co-exist in the long-haul market, with the
smaller sonic cruiser or 20-XX capable of 9,000 miles non-stop. "The
airlines want more range. We don't know what the sonic cruiser's size will
be; the airlines will tell us that."
Boeing expects to sell 600 planes this year but is cutting exposure to
commercial aerospace. It is developing space-based air management
systems to replace inadequate ground radars and provide better imaging,
including for pilots.
The new "architecture" would be rolled out this month before talks with the
federal aviation authority and others. "It could be in place in 3 three to 5
five years, but if people drag their feet, it'll take decades, said Mr
Stonecipher. "If you've got the right air traffic management you don't have
to follow crazy, congested routes - you just get up and go."
USD group confirmed plans to set up a military joint venture with BAE
Systems to exploit a $50bn global market by converting 767s into air