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chrisnh
Posts: 3435
Joined: Tue Jun 29, 1999 3:59 am

So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Fri Nov 08, 2002 11:27 pm

Of course, I'm not expecting the full-scale prototype to come rolling out of Boeing next week, but where does this 'concept aircaft' ('concept' is THEIR word for this thing, not mine) stand? With much fanfare and timed so nicely to steal Airbus' A380 thunder (albeit temporarily), Boeing 'announced' this grand new aircraft (quotation marks used for emphasis) as a smarter way to fly.

Skeptics then and now wondered whether this concept would ever see the light of day, so I wondered myself how they treat this neat airplane on their web site.

Upon going to Boeing's web site, you first have to wonder whether the Company is even in the commercial aircraft business anymore. The home page is festooned with military missiles, and you have to drill down a few levels to get to the 'commercial aircraft' side of Boeing's business. Those dearly-departed historians will recall the day when 'Commercial Aircraft' MEANT Boeing and MEANT America. No one--no company and no country--could do it better than Boeing and the United States. It is somewhat sad to see that 'commercial aircraft' is 'just another business unit' of the Company.

But I digress.

Once you manage to find the commercial aircraft section of Boeing's web site, you have to drill down a few MORE levels before you get to a rather truncated section devoted to 'future developments.' And it's here that the Sonic Cruiser is nice and neatly hidden away, kind of like the Spruce Goose was in Long Beach. The web pages describing this aircraft are months and months old, with no references to timelines for mockups, for prototypes, for anything. If this thing were for real, I'd expect more (and more prominently-displayed) information than what's there now.

One could be forgiven for wondering then--and even moreso now--about whether Boeing was (and is) just full of blather at a time when their lunch was being eaten by a company (Airbus) that none of them gave much credence to. This 'We've Gotta Say SOMETHING!' sort of attitude, if not backed up by a defined timeline of metal-cutting, design milestones, first-flight dates, gives Boeing a very decided 'Chicken Little' image.

I hope SOMEONE pushes Boeing on this. I agree that an aircraft this radical, this advanced, needs its time to germinate. Granted. But don't go blow your horn and then pull back into your shell. If this thing isn't going to see the light of day for decades to come, then it's obvious that their 'pre-announcement' was nothing more than an anti-Airbus ploy.

All that, to attack a company that they all thought would never amount to anything way back in the 1970s.

But, Boeing's still got nice-looking missiles!

Chris in New Hampshire
 
geert
Posts: 44
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2001 3:59 pm

RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Fri Nov 08, 2002 11:43 pm

The Sonic Cruiser is the winner of tomorrow, I'm sure! All technology jumps come from out-of-the-box thinking, not from business as usual (=same plane) at a lower price (=lower operating costs=lower ticket prices). So let's wait and see. Speed will always outrun price arguments. If you believe people are willing to travel at a lower speed for a lower price, take a look at the number of passengers traveling transatlantic by boat...

So it'll be around quite soon. Geert

 
SInGAPORE_AIR
Posts: 11619
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2000 4:06 am

RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Sat Nov 09, 2002 12:02 am

From http://www.airliners.net/discussions/general_aviation/read.main/960867/6/
----
Boeing on Thursday unveiled a new project which could dislodge the Sonic Cruiser - more conventional and fuel-efficient.

Walt Gilette - head of the Sonic Cruiser program - said Boeing would decide on speed vs. fuel efficiency with 250 seats at the end of 2002.

The "super-efficient airplane", would replace the 767. The "super-efficient aircraft" could use technology and manufacturing realisations made during the development of the Sonic Cruiser. However, this new "super-efficient aircraft" would be made up of 80% aluminium / aluminum allows, compared to 65% with the proposed Sonic Cruiser.

More information at the Financial Times website

Information was gathered from the above hyperlinked webpage. Full information can be viewed by clicking the above hyperlink. Information was not copied or pasted and was rephrased with the exception of the three quotes. The change of "airplane" to "aircraft" is mysterious and I offer no explanation.
Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.
 
4holer
Posts: 2733
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2002 1:47 am

RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Sat Nov 09, 2002 2:03 am

Remember September 11, 2001?
Well, the entire picture changed for the industry that morning.
Ghosts appear and fade away.....................
 
0A340
Posts: 262
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2000 3:10 am

RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Sat Nov 09, 2002 2:18 am

The SC can be built. No question about it. The big question is if it is going to deliver ALL it is promising: And 15% more speed AND comparable economics?
A basis for a family of planes AND the great range? A killer for the 388 although it is a much, much more different plane for a much, much more different mission? And is it going to appeal to anything more than specific city-pairs and specific markets?

And thus, therefore will it ever be built?
The answer looks like NO.

I have always considered the SC announcement a hastlily-put-together PowerPoint presentation to save face from conceding serious ground to Airbus (388 and 332, by withdrawing 747X and 764ERX). After that, an initially sound idea met with reality, and all that it means: You can't promise everything to everyone.


George

 
User avatar
chrisnh
Posts: 3435
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RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Sat Nov 09, 2002 6:00 am

How did 9/11 'change the entire picture' relative to the SC? Granted, this horrific terrorist act changed a lot of things, but it shouldn't have much (if anything) to do with whether the Sonic Cruiser is a workable 'concept.' If Boeing wants to trot 9/11 out as a reason for scuttling the program, then I'll laugh till I'm unable to laugh no more. I simply can't say much nice about a company that 'fabricates' a new & radical aircraft out of whole cloth, timing its press release oh-so-coincidentally to minimize the impact of Airbus' A380 announcement.

Fool us once, shame on me. Fool us twice, shame on you. I cannot believe a company of Boeing's calibre would even make something like this public unless it was committed to go ahead with it. That simply has never been their style. Heck, in most cases airframe makers want orders on the books before launching a program. If the SC dies a slow or quick death, people will see it for what it was: pure and misguided PR and one helluva dog-and-pony show.
 
AvObserver
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Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2002 7:40 am

RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Sat Nov 09, 2002 7:16 am

I, too, suspect the SC was largely a PR move to mitigate the bad news of the cancellation of 747X/767-400ERX. I think it's a workable concept that has relevance in a truly healthy industry but that time is not yet. The "super-efficient aircraft" is the way to go for now, providing a much needed replacement for the dated 757/767 lines. I'm convinced Boeing will choose this project next month, leaving the SC as a mere future possibility. This new airplane should prove to be an A330 killer if fuel-savings estimates are accurate. It might, however, also impact the 777, something Boeing should consider in planning for range and capacity. One thing's certain: Boeing needs to launch SOME kind of new aircraft soon or be left irrevocably in Airbus's dust.
 
4holer
Posts: 2733
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2002 1:47 am

RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Sat Nov 09, 2002 7:35 am

Oh.
So 9/11 did NOT devastate the airline industry, especially on Boeing's home turf. The potential customers are profitable and will be for the foreseeable future. Thank you for setting me straight.
BTW, impressive the way you got that contempt across right in the topic name.
Ghosts appear and fade away.....................
 
j.mo
Posts: 652
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2002 12:29 am

RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Sat Nov 09, 2002 11:51 am

ChrisNH,
As much as I hope the Sonic Cruiser is built, from an aviation enthusiast stand point, it is not as laughable as that "Flash Gordon" contraption Airbus threw out. Now that was funny.

Jeremy
 
cedarjet
Posts: 8103
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 1:12 am

RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Sat Nov 09, 2002 12:20 pm

"All technology jumps come from out-of-the-box thinking, not from business as usual (=same plane) at a lower price (=lower operating costs=lower ticket prices)." Sure, no airline wants proven technology married to lower operating costs, and find me a punter interested in lower ticket prices. As if!

"Speed will always outrun price arguments. If you believe people are willing to travel at a lower speed for a lower price, take a look at the number of passengers traveling transatlantic by boat." Sure. Take a look at the number of passengers travelling trans-Atlantic by Concorde.

An ocean liner takes four days across the pond, a 747 or A330 takes seven hours. This kind of difference in journey time is worth paying for. But the difference between seven hours and five and a half? Who even notices? You still get to spend at least two hours in traffic and two hours in queues at each end of the journey.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
jwenting
Posts: 9973
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2001 10:12 pm

RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Sat Nov 09, 2002 2:59 pm

Jeremy,Jeffrey, there is a small difference: Boeing actually did a lot more with SC than just produce some drawings.
I don't have figures, but they've had a pretty large team working on the design for a few years now, including subcontractors.
You don't do something like that just as a publicity stunt.
It not only costs a LOT of money (I wouldn't be surprised if Boeing sunk over a billion into the design by now) but it is also very bad for your reputation if it gets out that all those other companies that started work on it have done so for nothing because you were never planning to go ahead with it anyway.

IF the Sonic Cruiser fails, it will be for economic reasons (or very serious technolical setbacks) and not because Boeing never wanted to build it anyway like the Boeing opponents here scream every time the name of the project is mentioned.
I wish I were flying
 
cloudy
Posts: 1613
Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2002 3:23 pm

RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Sat Nov 09, 2002 3:56 pm

Good point, Jwenting.

If a project has serious subcontractor involvement + investment already, there is serious intent.

The approximate cost of the Sonic Cruiser project probably could be minned from Boeings Annual and Quarterly reports with enough accounting knowledge. This is how it is possible for someone with enough accounting knowledge and determination to find out the real price paid in most big aircraft orders.

Anyone want to take on this project? I can't - I've had only one accounting class.
 
cfalk
Posts: 10221
Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2000 6:38 pm

RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Sat Nov 09, 2002 5:38 pm

Boeing announced to its shareholders last month that it will develop EITHER the SC or the super-efficient "Yellowstone". It can't afford to develop both at a time, having to fund all development costs themselves (unlike Airbus). They've announced that the decision will be made by year-end.

Maybe Boeing should ask the EU for the same deal as they gave Airbus for funding so that they can develop both.

Charles

The only thing you should feel when shooting a terrorist: Recoil.
 
j.mo
Posts: 652
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2002 12:29 am

RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Sun Nov 10, 2002 8:55 am

jwenting,
I was actually defending the Sonic Cruiser, in a round-about way. It was mentioned the someone thought the SC was a stunt just to pull press from the A380. I know it is a design in progress. I just thought it humorous that Airbus released a picture of one of their kids models and try to pass it off as being in the same class as Boeing's SC. It was more sad really.

Like I have said before, I hope it does fly someday. I hope to see the A380 too. I am an aviation enthusiast, not just a Boeing or Airbus guy.

Jeremy
 
cedarjet
Posts: 8103
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 1:12 am

RE: So Where Is This Sonic Cruiser Anyway?

Sun Nov 10, 2002 2:23 pm

The Airbus kiddies model was no less likely to fly than the SC, even if it looked silly. Still, what do Airbus care, they're already well on the road to building a plane airlines really want.

And 9/11 didn't decimate the US airline business, it was already in a lot of trouble (Spirit bankruptcy, serious profit warnings etc). Unpleasant choice of argument I grant you but look how empty the planes involved in 9/11 were - a pair of 767s and a pair of 757s and the number of passengers lost in total was only 240, you could have put them all on one 767. JetBlue, SW, easyJet, Ryanair and others (Lufthansa, Qantas) are doing great. These airlines are very profitable and / or expanding rapidly (except I don't know about JB, but I hear they're doing fine too). The only thing decimated are the sluggish US majors, and the cause of their troubles is not terrorism, or in any case their troubles predate 9/11.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz

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