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Boeing 2707 SST Competitors

Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:03 pm

I understand that after Kennedy's announcement for America to produce a rival to the European SST, Boeing, Lockheed and North American were all invited to produce prototypes. Information on the Boeing 2707 is fairly accessible, but I was wondering if anyone has info on the 2 other possible SST's - range, performance, passenger capacity etc. Also, could it have been a possibility that North American may have used a passenger variant of the XB-40 experimental aircraft?


RE: Boeing 2707 SST Competitors

Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:23 pm

Dear PanAm707-320B -
Back in 1967-68, the industry was presented mostly with the Boeing and Lockheed design, I do not recall any suggestions about a XB-70 passenger version, but obviously, North American engineers probably had a say in the Boeing and Lockheed designs... Design engineers have beers together...
The Boeing design was initially a variable swept wing design, while Lockeed delta wing design resembled more of a larger size Concorde. Both Boeing and Lockeed projects were for airplanes cruising at Mach 2.2, possibly 2.3 or 2.4.
Pan Am was interessed in the Boeing SST, while TWA, a long time Lockheed customer was looking close to select the Lockheed SST.
Then Lockheed project lost to Boeing... some engineers from Lockheed moved from Burbank and Palmdale to Seattle. Later, Boeing abandonned the variable swept wing design... The rest is history...
When I joined PanAm in 1969, the company had the order for 25 747s, and had talks about getting the first SSTs from Boeing, even getting some Concordes as well. Remember, PanAm was big in these days, we were a world airline and national institution... Even the movie "Space Odissey 2001" in 1969, featured space ships with PanAm colors.
Happy contrails  Smile
(s) Skipper
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RE: Boeing 2707 SST Competitors

Sat Mar 20, 2004 2:03 am

Thanks for your help Skipper!

Given that Lockheed and North American had more experience with Supersonic aircraft and at the time Boeing only had experience with sub-sonic aircraft, I wonder why the decision was made to pursue solely with the Boeing 2707? It seems a shame that the three manufacturers didn't pool their resources, finance and experience in a similar fashion to the Anglo-French SST effort. I'm sure with the co-operation of what was then three massive corporations plus the backing of consecutive U.S. Presidents (Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon were all keen to advance U.S. technological superiority even if Congress eventually objected to continued support and funding) the American SST could have been a success and a worthy competitor to the Concorde. Indeed, with funding and involvement from these parties it's possible that SST passenger aircraft could still be plying a trade across their most viable routes - Transoceanic. I'm sure the vast majority of the market would be served by sub-sonic aircraft, but it's not inconceivable that a mass produced SST (certainly in far larger numbers than Concorde!) could serve a premium market on high-capacity routes and prove profitable for both the manufacturer and the airline. I appreciate that many people will use the example of Concorde to prove me wrong (and they may well be right) but this project seemed to be hampered by many factors such as limited capacity, very limited sales, early 70s fuel crisis etc. rather then one unbeatable problem. With increased capacity (which the U.S. version would have had) and increased sales (which the U.S version would have had due to sales to domestic U.S airlines) perhaps these types of aircraft may still be with us. At the moment we seem to have one 'type' of plane (admittedly in substantially varying sizes). If development had continued with both the European and U.S. SST programs perhaps we would see two 'types' of passenger aircraft - the subsonic aircraft for charter, low cost carriers and routes where SST's were not viable, and supersonic aircraft for high-density routes where time was a big consideration and money was perhaps less so.

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RE: Boeing 2707 SST Competitors

Sat Mar 20, 2004 3:04 am

As we know now, the VG 2707 was never going to be a viable airliner, the last tailed delta -300 version might have been,
THe Lockheed L2000, which was the favourite to win the SST competition, had a risky engine design as well as other features, but the expert on all this is 2707SST, when he gets on here no doubt he'll be able to expand on this.
However, the biggest problem was the FAA Spec, insisting on Mach 3, later Mach 2.7, meaning big challenges in environmental control as well as having to use expensive titanium as the primary structure.
The reason that what became Concorde was a Mach 2 aircraft, so able to use aluminum, was to avoid this in the first place.
Really the only advantage over Concorde was capacity, the higher speed could not be exploited fully as the range was not much greater than Concordes, so the 2707 or L2000 would not have been a true transpacific aircraft.
It is notable that most airlines who were interested in SSTs in the 1960s, optioned both Concordes and 2707, some of this may have been due to Concorde being planned to enter service some years before the 2707, but many of these operators probably also planned to use them like airlines use 747/767s in their fleets now.
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RE: Boeing 2707 SST Competitors

Sat Mar 20, 2004 3:27 am

Hi PanAm707320B:

I think you bring up some important points. Boeing and BAC/Aerospatiale viewed the Boeing 2707 and Concorde as complementary aircraft, not necessarily competitors. However, Concorde's manufacturers did think they would experience greatest sales in the three to four years between Concorde's and the 2707's entry into service. (In the mid-1960s, Concorde was expected to enter service in 1971.) Later, Concorde would be useful on routes not demanding 300-seat capacity.

The problem was the motivation to build the SSTs. Boeing, the FAA, and others argued that the US needed its own SST to remain competitive with Europe. Britain and France pushed Concorde as a solution to American dominance of the subsonic market, which would be even more needed after the 2707 was launched. SST critics in the US complained (with foresight as it turned out) that Concorde would not be a competitive threat and that the US should not waste resources countering it. This argument, along with vastly exaggerated environmental concerns and budgetary constraints, killed the program in 1971. Once the 2707 disappeared, much of the need for Concorde evaporated. A lot of airlines lost interest and dropped out of the program.

About Boeing, Lockheed, and North American:
The initial FAA request for proposals, issued in August 1963, was open to any interested manufacturer. Boeing, Lockheed, and North American responded while Douglas opted out. Boeing pushed its 150-passenger swing-wing design, which originated during the company's fight with General Dynamics to win the TFX contract, later designated the F-111. Lockheed loosely based their 218-seat L-2000 on the SR-71. North American's design was a modified 187-seat XB-70. Here are some marketing pics:

On June 1, 1964, North American was dropped, and Boeing's design held a a wide lead over Lockheed's in performance and economics. The FAA wanted to proceed to prototype construction immediately, but Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who had been put in de facto charge of the program, insisted that neither aircraft would meet his strict economic requirements.

Well, to make a very long and complex story short, McNamara extended the design competition again and again, ultimately until September 1966. The manufacturers vastly improved their designs during this period, and some 2707 promotional documents show that the aircraft's operating costs actually dropped below the 707's (how accurate these figures are, who can say). This was mainly due to size growth, with Boeing's 2707-100 offering about 300 seats in two classes. Lockheed's design was slightly smaller. I think the FAA wisely believed that competition between the firms drove them to much greater innovation than a collaborative program would have.

There was quite a bit of speculation that President Johnson would order construction of both Lockheed and Boeing prototypes. In the end, the FAA's analysis preferred Boeing's design, and the airlines has also expressed a substantial preference for the 2707. I think that IF Boeing's initial swing-wing design had been viable, their SST could have done relatively well, although certainly not as well as the 500+ aircraft projected by Boeing. After the swing wing became unworkable and was abandoned in 1968, the performance of the fixed-wing 2707-300 dropped abysmally. I think it would have been a commercial disaster along the lines of Concorde.

Airlines held 122 orders for the 2707 when the program was cancelled by Congress in 1971. Concorde had 74 options. The breakdown is as follows:

AIRLINE       Concorde    B2707

Aer Lingus - 2
Air Canada 4 6
Air France 8 6
Air India 2 2
Airlift Int. - 1
Alitalia - 6
American 6 6
BOAC 8 6
Braniff 3 2
Canadian Pac. - 3
Continental 3 3
Delta - 3
Eastern 6 6
El Al - 2
Iberia - 3
JAL 3 5
KLM - 6
Lufthansa 3 3
Middle East 2 -
Northwest - 6
Pakistan Int. - 2
Pan American 8 15
Qantas 4 6
Sabena 2 -
Trans-Am. - 1
TWA 6 12
United 6 6
World - 3
----- -----
TOTALS 74 122
I have a partially-completed web site on the various SST programs at Only the 2707 and Concorde sections are anywhere near finished. The 2707 history pages might be particularly useful ( You're welcome to browse, and please post any other questions.


[Edited 2004-03-19 19:35:46]
Keynes is dead and we are living in his long run.
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RE: Boeing 2707 SST Competitors

Sat Mar 20, 2004 3:38 am

Fantastic answer, and btw your signature is one of the best on
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RE: Boeing 2707 SST Competitors

Sat Mar 20, 2004 4:05 am

Excellent post B2707! I'd never seen any of the N/A concepts before! Wow. I wonder if the B-70 program HAD NOT been scrapped, what there MIGHT have been. But then, the whole American SST program came to naught, anyway...

I had asked in a post before, what became of the Boeing SST mock up? I read it was in a warehouse in Florida, for a while.

And like Starlion says, great signature.....

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RE: Boeing 2707 SST Competitors

Sat Mar 20, 2004 4:46 am

No trouble at all, always glad to put who knows how many hours (and dollars) of research to good use!

I've never found a good explanation of why NA was dropped. Texts usually mention that "North American was eliminated" or "the competition downselected to Boeing and Lockheed," etc. without elaborating. I imagine the evaluation committee found that a military airframe would be too unsuitable as a civilian transport. At that point, the XB-70 had not rolled out, much less flown, so there were no hard operating data available.

Bizarre but true: after the 2707 won the FAA's competition, there was some serious speculation that a large portion of the production run (>30%) would be purchased by the Air Force for conversion into strategic bombers to replace the XB-70. This was ultimately rejected and the search for a true successor eventually led to the B-1A program. The Air Force probably would have purchased a few SSTs for use as high-priority transports and especially hospital/medevac aircraft. Quite a few articles and illustrations did appear, though:

See for a thread about SST mockups.

Glad you appreciate the signature! Most people without economics training are probably a little confused by it  Smile.

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RE: Boeing 2707 SST Competitors

Mon Mar 22, 2004 7:50 pm

Excellent answer B2707SST. Thanks for your help and information. After watching a recent programme titled 'Planes That Never Flew' on Discovery Wings which focused on the 2707 and it's main competitors, I was keen to find out more information on specific details and what perhaps may have been done to alter the success of the programme.

Best regards

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