Interesting. I don't think AMR will be the first one receiving the SC now. Poor them. I feel sorry for all the US airlines
Boeing's Sonic Cruiser Loses Airlines' Attention As Carriers Focus on Survival
Knight Ridder/Tribune - November 20, 2001
Nov. 17--Seven months ago, American Airlines was so hot for Boeing's Sonic Cruiser that chief executive Don Carty jokingly asked the head of Boeing Commercial Airplanes for exclusive dibs on the first three years of production.
But the Dallas-based carrier's ardor for the Sonic Cruiser was snuffed out by the Sept. 11 hijacking of two American jetliners and Monday's crash in New York of another American plane. With American bleeding up to $15 million a day -- and the airline industry preoccupied with survival -- the debut of Boeing's ultrafast plane likely won't come so quickly.
Some of the 15 or so major international airlines working with Boeing to define the proposed plane's characteristics suspended Sonic Cruiser meetings after the terror attacks and have been slow to return Boeing's marketing questionnaires.
Boeing had hoped to use the information to nail down the plane's basic configurations, such as flight range and seat number, by this time. Boeing now plans to firm up initial configurations by early 2002, said Randy Baseler, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
Reflecting the diminished urgency for new aircraft introductions, Boeing officially has decided to forgo derivative engines for the Sonic Cruiser and instead has asked three jet-engine makers for new designs.
The decision will raise the Sonic Cruiser's development costs and may lengthen the wait for its first passengers. Boeing said it would have the airliner ready for service between 2007 and 2008, with the latter entry date predicated on using the latest technologies.
Waiting for more advanced technologies should make the Sonic Cruiser more expensive to buy but cheaper to operate, said Rick Kennedy, a spokesman for GE Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati.
Lowering the Sonic Cruiser's operating costs is one of Boeing's chief engineering challenges. The plane is designed to cruise at Mach 0.95 to Mach 0.98, or 95 to 98 percent of the speed of sound. It would surpass the Boeing 747 as the fastest subsonic jetliner and would be the swiftest passenger jet behind the supersonic Concorde.
But pushing the plane near -- or just above -- the speed of sound burns fuel at a much higher rate. Boeing's goal is to make the Sonic Cruiser no more expensive to fly per mile than the Boeing model it's designed to replace, the 767.
It would accomplish this partly by building the Sonic Cruiser with almost all lightweight composite materials and titanium instead of the usual aluminum wings and fuselage.
But Boeing also is counting on offsetting the Sonic Cruiser's higher fuel burn with savings that are more variable, such as shaving labor costs for pilots and cabin crews with shorter trips and by squeezing more daily flights out of each aircraft because of the quicker turnaround.
Even as it postponed the target date for selecting initial configurations, Boeing has been narrowing the broad range of parameters it announced in March. The Sonic Cruiser originally was set to carry between 100 to 300 passengers, have a range between 6,000 and 10,000 nautical miles and be either single- or twin-aisle.
Boeing since has decided that the first version of the plane will have two aisles, stick close to the middle of the seat range and have a range of at least 7,000 nautical miles. The Sonic Cruiser's flight deck probably will look unlike any current Boeing jetliner models, which all have control yokes instead of side sticks found in Airbus planes.
By taking the additional time to incorporate the latest advances in engineering and other areas, Boeing will end up with "a much more state-of-the-art plane," said Paul Nisbet, an aerospace analyst with JSA Research.
Nisbet expects Boeing to formally launch the Sonic Cruiser program during the 2003 Paris Air Show.
Nisbet said Boeing tried to respond quickly to airlines' initial enthusiasm for the Sonic Cruiser by aiming for an earlier rollout. While that urgency has dissolved since September, Nisbet expects the plane to eventually rekindle longing when better times return to the airlines, including at American.
"Maybe in 2008, they'd still want the first three years' worth," Nisbet said.
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(c) 2001, The Seattle Times. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.
Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.