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Supersonic Air Cargo - Viable?  
User currently offlineTranspac787 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3208 posts, RR: 13
Posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 7096 times:

Hey all,

I saw an interesting rendering the other day and it got me thinking...


http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i239/elementx109/Anet/fdxconcorde.jpg


Is supersonic air cargo a viable business model, at least partially?? Not necessarily with Concorde as it's been discussed ad nauseam that those birds will never fly again, but maybe future types?? The Soviets used the Tu-144 for a brief period in the late 70's for supersonic air cargo as Russia spans 10 time zones.


http://parlidmasinam.lv/bildes/tu144ll.jpg


Thanks in advance for all responses!!


25 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineB6A322 From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 291 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 7050 times:

Well, I could see this happening before we see supersonic passenger travel again - There's just less human risk involved, less liability etc.

The problem is though, AFAIK, supersonic operations are prohibitively expensive and burn through fuel like there's no tomorrow.

So is it possible? yes. Likely? no.



The content I post is solely my own opinion. It is not an official statement by/of/for nor representative of any company
User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 79
Reply 2, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 6875 times:

Quoting Transpac787 (Thread starter):
Is supersonic air cargo a viable business model, at least partially??

I'm not sure who the intended customer is. Supersonic passenger travel isn't a viable business model, and almost all cargo cares less about time than people do. Existing infrastructure can already get cargo from anywhere to anywhere in


User currently onlinestackhouse007 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 420 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 6867 times:
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Wouldn't that size plane not hold nearly as much as the other planes the cargo carriers use now? Yeah it would be a lot faster but it wouldn't be nearly as much cargo onboard.. Cool idea though and a neat picture.


Nikon D60: 18-55mm - 55-200mm / Canon 50D: 100-400mm
User currently offlineTranspac787 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3208 posts, RR: 13
Reply 4, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 6459 times:

Quoting B6A322 (Reply 1):
So is it possible? yes. Likely? no

Well - it's been possible for awhile. The Ty-144's ran cargo operations for some months before the Soviets abandoned the program.

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 2):
and almost all cargo cares less about time than people do

But the most rapidly growing sector of air freight is the express overnight air freight. So, I'm wondering if Mach 2 air freight between two particular city pairs (not system wide) would be a viable offering from a freight company. Maybe between Los Angeles and Tokyo??

Quoting stackhouse007 (Reply 3):
Wouldn't that size plane not hold nearly as much as the other planes the cargo carriers use now?

Yes, so the freight would have to be extremely high yield and would have to have specialized city pairs that demanded such speed. London, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, etc.


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13206 posts, RR: 77
Reply 5, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 6373 times:

Around 1979/80, before the two unsold UK production Concordes were taken up by BA, BAe and Fed Ex did do serious studies of a fast parcel express service.
BAe doing drawings of the cabin and equipment changes needed.
Which I've seen, when I was tasked with clearing out the large amount of Concorde paperwork and manuals BA held, including stuff passed to them from BAe, after the fleet retired in 2003.
(I passed all this stuff that BA did not legally have to hold for a certain time, to the webmaster of www.concordesst.com who forwarded it to the Brooklands Museum).

In the end, Fed Ex did not think it viable, good news for BA since they would make good use of unsold frames 214 and 216.

As to the TU-144, while it did carry cargo internally in the USSR, for some of it's short service life, the sheer unreliability of the aircraft would not have made any kind of proper commercial sense.


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 19699 posts, RR: 58
Reply 6, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 6279 times:

Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 4):
But the most rapidly growing sector of air freight is the express overnight air freight. So, I'm wondering if Mach 2 air freight between two particular city pairs (not system wide) would be a viable offering from a freight company. Maybe between Los Angeles and Tokyo??

The issue is that if you need to send something, 24 hours is generally enough time. Given the 4-6x cost for shipping something supersonic, I doubt it would be worth it.


User currently offlinehuaiwei From Singapore, joined Oct 2008, 1114 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 6263 times:

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 2):
almost all cargo cares less about time than people do

Well the cargo themselves can't probably experience anxiety, but the intended recipients (and senders) can certainly do.

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 2):
Existing infrastructure can already get cargo from anywhere to anywhere in

But not necessarily at the needed speed.



It's huaiwei...not huawei. I have nothing to do with the PRC! :)
User currently offline413X3 From United States of America, joined Jul 2008, 1983 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 6258 times:

A 747-400ERF can be almost anywhere in the world in 15-20 hours. There aren't enough products out there that would require something like this to be operating. It could be a niche like an AN-225 but only if Asia suddenly gets a desire for Chicago style pizza fresh from the ovens

User currently offlineMadameConcorde From San Marino, joined Feb 2007, 10895 posts, RR: 37
Reply 9, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 6226 times:

They did not do it with Concorde, I don't see it happening later either, at least not in our lifetime, unless they find a new way of propulsion that is faster and more efficient than what we had for Concorde, I am thinking more in terms of fusion with the Large Hadron Collider that may lead us into new discoveries that may be applied in the future.

For now the A380 F will be the ideal freighter especially when they come with the 900 extended version. I hope Airbus will reconsider the project.   



There was a better way to fly it was called Concorde
User currently offlineadriaticus From Mexico, joined May 2004, 1137 posts, RR: 18
Reply 10, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 6174 times:

Getting freight from point A to point B in "X" amount of time is less of a problem than having it clear customs at the arrival country in an equally swift manner. Unless the customs clearance problem is adequately solved, there will not be a reason to fly supersonic cargo, if it is just going to sit for hours (sometimes days) at the arrival port of entry's customhouse. This delay kills the advantage of supersonic over common air freight carriage.

Cheers,
__Ad.



A300/18/19/20/21 B721/2 B732/3/G/8 B741/2/4 B752 B762/3/4 B772/3 DC8/9/10 MD11 TU134/154 IL62/86 An24 SA340/2000 E45/90
User currently offlinecoopdogyo From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 189 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 6130 times:

The only time it might happen is if for some reason there are large amounts of human organs being shipped from one side of the world to the other.

User currently offlinebwvilla From Germany, joined Jan 2008, 76 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 6076 times:

Quoting adriaticus (Reply 10):
Getting freight from point A to point B in "X" amount of time is less of a problem than having it clear customs at the arrival country in an equally swift manner. Unless the customs clearance problem is adequately solved, there will not be a reason to fly supersonic cargo, if it is just going to sit for hours (sometimes days) at the arrival port of entry's customhouse. This delay kills the advantage of supersonic over common air freight carriage.

No, for express freight to most countries you can normally clear it while it's in transit. Then you just need to be able to pull specific items aside at destination in the case that Customs have indicated that they want to inspect them.

Apparently, DHL used to regularly put a small amount of material (generally bags of document shipments) on the LHR-JFK Concorde flights.

I do agree though that it's difficult to see the justification for a supersonic full freighter though, as there would be relatively small improvement in end to end transit time in most cases.



lhr-sin-bru-cgn-???
User currently offlineBaroque From Australia, joined Apr 2006, 15380 posts, RR: 59
Reply 13, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 6005 times:

If you wanted to speed parcels, going to a time when customs were not in fear of drugs and bombs would be a good start. But you are as likely to be able to do that as break the laws of physics. Max speed is not the controlling factor on deliveries - is it?????

User currently offlinedc10bhx From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 225 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 5942 times:

Many years ago I worked for a Company that handled shipments for a well known copier Company. At one stage we had the vast majority of the space moving across the Atlantic for this one client. They used to use the BA SSC flights on an almost weekly basis moving urgent shipments (restricted to 100 Kgs per Airway Bill) just because someone in the USA was shouting loud enough for these parts.

Bear in mind that at one stage we were using PA/BA/BR/TW/anyone who had space to get this stuff from the UK to NYC (or around that area).



I'm lucky my job is my hobby
User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 79
Reply 15, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 5710 times:

Quoting huaiwei (Reply 7):
Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 2):
Existing infrastructure can already get cargo from anywhere to anywhere in

But not necessarily at the needed speed.

You conveniently chopped the most relevant portion of that quote..."anywhere in *about 24 hours*."

To prove the viability of the idea, you need to show there's enough cargo out there that needs to go faster than the current speed to fill up a supersonic freighter of that size. It's not at all obvious that that level of demand exists.

Tom.


User currently offlineAdriaticus From Mexico, joined May 2004, 1137 posts, RR: 18
Reply 16, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 5618 times:

Quoting bwvilla (Reply 12):
No, for express freight to most countries you can normally clear it while it's in transit.

Just to clarify... No more than just a handful of countries in the world actually allow for pre-clearance in transit. Also just a handful provide for separate, expedite clearance processes for express shipments. Only 60+ countries have adhered to the World Customs Organization's revised Kyoto Convention, and even fewer apply the WCO Immediate Release Guidelines. However, I reckon the city pairs that could provide the market niche for supersonic freight movement (e.g., London, Paris, Tokio, New York, Shanghai, Singapore, etc. ) are also most likely located in those few countries offering pre-clearance and separate, expedite clearance services for express shipments. But if the market niche included cities in countries with more traditional customs clearance services (Think of Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, El Cairo, Mumbai, Moscow, Dubai or Sydney), the supersonic-flown parcels are likely to be sitting for hours or days (in Buenos Aires, two-three days at least) before clearing customs.

Quoting Baroque (Reply 13):
If you wanted to speed parcels, going to a time when customs were not in fear of drugs and bombs would be a good start. But you are as likely to be able to do that as break the laws of physics. Max speed is not the controlling factor on deliveries - is it?????
  


Cheers,
__Ad.



A300/18/19/20/21 B721/2 B732/3/G/8 B741/2/4 B752 B762/3/4 B772/3 DC8/9/10 MD11 TU134/154 IL62/86 An24 SA340/2000 E45/90
User currently offline413X3 From United States of America, joined Jul 2008, 1983 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 5499 times:

Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 9):
For now the A380 F will be the ideal freighter especially when they come with the 900 extended version.

No. It is not an ideal freighter because it does not have a nose cargo door


User currently offlineXT6Wagon From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 3409 posts, RR: 4
Reply 18, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 5482 times:

I could see it if we get a viable supersonic small private jet.

Be more of a courier than "frieght" but being able to move time critical items might pay at that level where you have a small jet.


User currently offlineaa61hvy From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 13977 posts, RR: 57
Reply 19, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 5445 times:

Many people balk at the cost of international priority shipping. Think how they'd balk at the cost of a supersonic transit time?


Go big or go home
User currently offlinePITrules From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 3203 posts, RR: 5
Reply 20, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 5393 times:

Look at all the expense FedEx is going through right now just to shave off 2-3 hours delivery time from Asia to MEM.

I don't think this idea is totally without merit..



FLYi
User currently offlineaa61hvy From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 13977 posts, RR: 57
Reply 21, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 5362 times:

Quoting PITrules (Reply 20):
Look at all the expense FedEx is going through right now just to shave off 2-3 hours delivery time from Asia to MEM.

I think it's an extra 5 hrs, but we're splitting hairs here  

But with that said China is a giagantic market that could readily beneft from that window. That said the customers always have options to ship next flight and get the packages within 12-18 hrs depending on the flight duration, and that costs a great deal; again most customers aren't willing to pay for it.



Go big or go home
User currently offlineER757 From Cayman Islands, joined May 2005, 2525 posts, RR: 7
Reply 22, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 5220 times:

Look at all the expense FedEx is going through right now just to shave off 2-3 hours delivery time from Asia to MEM.

I don't think this idea is totally without merit..

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 15):
To prove the viability of the idea, you need to show there's enough cargo out there that needs to go faster than the current speed to fill up a supersonic freighter of that size. It's not at all obvious that that level of demand exists.

Exactly right. Sure, there are hot "line down" or "aircraft on ground" shipments that cost the customer thousands of dollars per hour while they wait for a part, but there simply aren't enough of those on any one particular route to make it a worthwhile venture on the part of the airline.


User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 79
Reply 23, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 5197 times:

Quoting 413X3 (Reply 17):
No. It is not an ideal freighter because it does not have a nose cargo door

The A380F only makes really good sense as a package freighter (and it looks like it would be a *great* package freighter). Package freighters don't really have any particular need for a nose door.

The nose door comes into its own when you're working with really outsize cargo, which is by definition not going to be package freight, and almost certainly better suited to a 747-xF or AN-124 than an A380F.

Tom.


User currently offlinedw747400 From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 1260 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 5142 times:

Rather than a new SST built with a focus on cargo, I think it is much more likely we see a supersonic business jet (SSBJ) next. I would not be at all surprised if within a few years of an SSBJ hitting the market, someone comes up with an STC for a side cargo door, effectively creating a small supersonic cargo plane.

The market for deliveries worldwide in less than 24 hours is large and growing, but we are talking about everyday packages flowing between large city centers--you need point to point capability on a flexible schedule in order to minimize time. Its unlikely you'll have enough demand on a regularly scheduled route to fill a Concorde sized aircraft--at least not without a MAJOR breakthrough in price... but small, special packages could keep a small supersonic aircraft busy.

For example, I've seen a lot of older Lears and Falcons running parts for different manufacturing facilities. In one case, a facility was being assessed a contractual penalty of $50,000 per hour when it was down, and the transcontinental flight with the needed spares took around 6 hours on the chartered Lear 31. An SSBJ (assuming it was permitted to fly overland---a big if) would have cut that to around 3 hours... I think that $150,000 savings would have been worth the added price tag of the SSBJ.

There are lots of cases like this... in rare instances, you DO need a big aircraft, but not enough to support keeping a brand new SST on call.

So in short, yes, I think there is a market for supersonic cargo, but most likely we'll see it on charter operations being used for special purposes with jets under 100,000 pounds.



CFI--Certfied Freakin Idiot
User currently offlinePackcheer From United States of America, joined Nov 2008, 332 posts, RR: 0
Reply 25, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 5012 times:

One thing that comes to mind with this idea is medical equipment and medicines. I was watching a show a while ago, I want to say it was on National Geographic about UPS/Fed Ex (or at least this part of the story was). There are many drugs and medical procedures that have a specific shelf life, some as short as 24 hours. So lets say a drug is produced somewhere in China, by the time that drug were to reach the east coast of the US, there may be only a 5 or 6 hour window to get that drug from wherever it lands to the patient.

With supersonic transport the useful life of drugs would be improved as it would have shorter transit time.

I realize this is a small and not too often occuring issue, but at the rate medical insurance companies pay for things, drug companies are willing to develop new drugs, there may be something to be had here.



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