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      tomcat72


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      Post #78177, posted on 05-10-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      Iím sure this will have been discussed before however, since Iím still new to the cafe and at the risk of ridicule, I wondered what people felt about the prospects of supersonic transport returning to the friendly skies within the next 10-15 years.

      Iíve been reading about the NASA and Lockheed developments under the X-59 QueSST low-boom program as well as Boom Technologyís XB-1 demonstrator.

      Both of these were reported to be scheduled for testing sometime in 2021 however the most recent media reports Iíve come across are dated back in 2019. I canít find anything more recent.

      I expect covid will have delayed work on these programs like everything else but I guess they could also be running into technical hurdles, not surprising for complex developments such as these.

      I always thought it was a tremendous shame that Boeingís 2707 was cancelled, especially as I believe part of the reason was potential damage to property due to sonic booms over land, whereas Concorde went into operation flying supersonic only over water. The additional seats on a 2707 might also have made it more economically viable.

      Anyway, I wondered if anyone had any more recent info on these or knew of any similar developments by other major aviation players?

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      Ken Miller


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      Post #78178, posted on 05-10-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      Tom.....
      I love SST's however I am doubtful they'll ever succeed. REG Davies wrote Fallacies and Fantasies of Air Transport History which is a favorite. There is one chapter on SSTs in it. His premise is that the SSTs would never be successful/make money due to economics and scheduling. Worth a read. Davies wrote about the past history so things may change for the future but I have my doubts. I don't have any info on current plans/programs but when I do see something I raise my eyebrows and think back to Davie's book.

      Ken

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      NX28388


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      Post #78185, posted on 05-10-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      Not unless something's done about at least three things: cost, capacity and noise. The idea of getting from one continent to another in two hours or less sounds awfully good until you find out what it will cost you to fly that quickly. For most people this is either beyond their means or more than they want to spend.

      Plus anyone who's been aboard a Concorde knows that, at least in existing form, supersonic passenger travel means a relatively small passenger load inside a small cabin. (It's one of the most surprising things you encounter when you step aboard: for as celebrated as Concorde is, it's like being aboard a super-long CRJ with really tiny windows.) That is also going to keep the costs high, because unless there's some major advance you're not going to get sufficient passenger loads aboard individual flights to bring the costs down.

      There's also the fact that aircraft with power to go supersonic are LOUD. I always thought of the SST controversy in the abstract until I got to see Concorde fly at Oshkosh in 1998, and I realized just how loud that airplane was. That convinced me. Again, unless there's some kind of major advance, supersonic passenger travel's not going to be something you can access at every airport, especially the more that noise sensitivity has become an issue. I won't even get into the sonic boom issue, but if the occasional military jet generating a sonic boom is enough to get people's nerves rattled here, I hate to think of what would happen if it routinely happened with passenger jets.

      Maybe I'm wrong in all this (and in the interest of disclosure, although it was a technological marvel, the SST really doesn't excite me), but it's going to take some seriously huge technological breakthroughs, not only to deal with the flight issues but also the economics, before we see SST service come back any time soon. Especially in an age where most passengers shop for flights on the basis of how much it will cost them to get from Point A to Point B.

      Jodie Peeler

      "In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake." - Sayre's Law

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      tomcat72


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      Post #78188, posted on 05-10-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      I fully appreciate the economic argument and, even if they were to return, the seat cost would still be aimed at business execs and the wealthy, however I thought that if the capacity was increased sufficiently (250-300?) that might at least make them viable for certain high traffic routes.

      Regarding the noise, I assumed that NASA and Lockheed must believe thereís mileage in pursuing a solution to the sonic boom and that the idea it can be reduced to a Ďthumpí which doesnít cause damage to buildings might at least overcome that particular problem, otherwise they wouldnít waste millions on developing something with no hope of success (or is that naive? :-) ).

      Iíd imagine the technical hurdles will be easier to overcome than the economic ones however and I certainly accept that SST for the masses (ie the likes of me) probably wonít be viable in my lifetime, at least.

      Itís still a nice aspiration however and Iíll continue to watch these developments with interest.

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      Post #78194, posted on 05-11-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      A major challenge is that supersonic aerodynamics lead to lower efficiency and more weight per passenger. Range is thus more costly, which means either a spiraling cost curve past probably 5000 nm, or fuel stops. Fuel stops somewhat defeat the idea, so you'd have a limited set of ranges where it makes sense.

      Next up is scheduling: there are some routes where, due to time zones, going faster won't necessarily help you out (e.g. eastbound transatlantic, why would I pay more to chew up my day when I can have 7 hours of sleep in business class?).

      I think it might work for bizjets, you might be able to find enough people who are willing to spend that kind of money to go faster. Regarding a 250-seater, I highly doubt you'll get the numbers to work. Looking at the current blend of seats on long haul, most people are either unwilling or unable to pay for much more than coach.

      If you got people to spend 2-3x to go Mach 2, you siphoned off some of the premium demand, and found the routes where it's a preferable solution that's not too range limited, you might be able to sell a couple hundred units on a good day. Given R&D of $15B, I doubt that it would pencil out for an OEM.

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      Post #78195, posted on 05-11-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      One more thing to consider is the optics: Boeing and Airbus have been making a lot of noise about planes getting more efficient, and trying to get research grants to keep improving. If they roll out a design whose per-seat fuel burn is a giant step backward, all of that will evaporate because no politician wants to be seen signing those checks.

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      tomcat72


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      Post #78196, posted on 05-11-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      I must confess I hadnít considered the negative green PR aspect of this which could be as big a hurdle to cross than the economic one, given the tendency of politicians to cave to lobbyists - even when theyíre not supported by the facts, which they would be in this case. Thatís an extremely good point.

      I imagine then for commercial SST to have a future, it would take significant advances in a range of technologies to be able to overcome those downsides, including more extensive use of lightweight materials for all components. I also wonder if the focus on electric-powered aircraft will drain enthusiasm for SST research.

      Yet another SST killer could be Hyperloop, at least over land.

      (Maybe whoever built those UAPs I keep hearing about have resolved some of those problems)

      Well, it was a nice thought!

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      tomcat72


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      Post #78234, posted on 05-14-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      Based on the previous posts it may end up being an academic exercise however I just came across a new article from NASA indicating that theyíre pressing ahead with the X-59 program:

      https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/a-view-of-nasa-s-x-59-engine-inlet

      General overview page:
      https://www.nasa.gov/specials/X59/

      Iím still curious to see where this goes.

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      LH707


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      Post #78236, posted on 05-15-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      The boom itself is fixable, the question remains whether people are willing to pay for the speed. In fact, Boom Supersonic advertises that their planes can run on biofuels (albeit more than their slower counterparts) to be greener, the big issue remains the aerodynamic and weight penalties of supersonic flight.

      Even if we had same-cost green sustainable fuels (SAF), I still don't think the economics would pencil out. Considering most airline-involved journeys, you're better off shortening peripheral times. For example: this afternoon, I flew from Seattle to Vegas (scouting out the IMPS venue :P ), a distance of ~760 nm. I left my house at 1340 to get a cab to the train, hopped on the train at 1400, got to the airport at 1440, took off 1525, landed at 1735, taxied for a bit, then got to the hotel at 1850ish, for a door-to-door speed of 152 knots. Making the 2-hour plane section faster would not materially alter that outcome.

      Take a longer trip to Europe to see family: an hour to the airport, hour chilling in security+lines, 9.5 hours SEA-AMS, then an hour layover, and an hour AMS-HAM, 30 min goofing around in bag claim, 40 mins to the farm house. 13:40 total door-to-door if it works well. Now let's assume that SEA-AMS is at mach 2: 4246 nm / (660*2) = 3.2 hours, plus departure and approach sequencing gives you 4 hours. So if we yank 5 hours from the total of 13:40, we get 8:40, for a 37% savings. Given that the normal R/T ticket costs me ~$1500 in most summers, would I be willing to double that to save 5 hours? $300/hour at a normal wage rate is ~$600k a year, which is top 1% territory. I might plunk 3 grand once to get the experience, but there won't be enough consistent travelers to do it to make it worthwhile for an OEM to spend $15B to build it.

      Tl;dr: there are not enough people willing to pay for SSTs to make them viable. Lower-hanging fruit include faster security lines and ground transportation.

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      Post #78238, posted on 05-15-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      Iím certain youíre logic is correct Merlin and SST isnít commercially viable, especially since there arenít enough billionaires to fill seats on a regular basis to justify the massive development costs.

      It does beg the question however about why theyíre even doing it (assuming the research is aimed at the commercial market) unless, for example, theyíre also looking to substantially reduce the overall weight of the X plane using advanced materials, which could alter the fuel cost equation to a degree. I havenít read that far.

      I know that Concorde operated at a loss but was seen as a prestige flagship for BA and AF and the losses must have been seen as acceptable for most of its life by those carriers, however the economic climate wrt aviation has obviously moved on since then.

      The environmental /political hurdle you pointed out is possibly insurmountable.

      As I say, Iím still interested to see where it leads if just from a technical perspective and Iím on a general NASA news dist list anyway.

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      Post #78258, posted on 05-17-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      I think most of the current R&D is aimed at the bizjet space for exactly that reason, and they're shooting for more conservative speeds like 1.6-1.8.

      Regarding lighter/better materials, these can make a step-change in efficiency for supersonic aircraft, but can likely also do the same for subsonic designs. The pointy shape and low aspect ratio wings will always make supersonic aircraft have more structural weight and induced drag at the same tech level.

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      Ken Miller


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      Post #78261, posted on 05-17-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      You would hope that someone has some sort of reasonable plan to make money from an SST or the investors are just flushing $ away. I have to laugh about the text stating research has/will reduce the sonic boom to a thump. Right....

      SST's and beyond planes sure look cool. We are still waiting for one to be economically successful. The TU-144 was a real disaster only flying 55 passenger flights when in service.

      Ken

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      Post #78268, posted on 05-18-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      Boom is now claiming $100 prices. I'll take it!

      https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/boom-supersonic-four-hours-100-bucks/index.html

      Regards,

      ahmed

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      Post #78270, posted on 05-18-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      Ahmed...$100 for a four hour supersonic flight?? Let us know how that works out. LOL....Funny how researchers are trying to eliminate the sonic boom and another company has chosen Boom as a company name. Guess I'd prefer Boom over Thump.

      Ken

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      Post #78271, posted on 05-18-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      Of course, there's nothing like an attention-grabbing headline. A hundred dollars might be a little optimistic, but I truly believe that efficient, clean, affordable supersonic travel will become a reality in our life times. It has to! After 70 years of jet travel, we are still moving at about 550mph if not slower.

      With longer range capabilities, 19-hour flights are happening on a daily basis, which is a ridiculous amount of time to spend in the air. In the last hours of a 17.5-hour SFO-SIN flight, I would've gladly paid a couple hundred dollars more if the flight was just a couple hours shorter, let alone half the time.

      Regards,

      ahmed

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      Post #78332, posted on 06-03-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/03/united-will-buy-15-ultrafast-airplanes-from-start-up-boom-supersonic.html

      I missed the Concorde but if this actually happens I am going!

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      tomcat72


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      Post #78333, posted on 06-03-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      Interesting development.

      Unitedís CEO seems pretty bullish about his airlineís future by investing in both SST and electric aircraft.

      Several hurdles to cross in the next few years by Boom, however Iíll watch with eager anticipation!

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      Post #78334, posted on 06-03-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      I've got thar BOOM newslettter today. Couln't believe it!!!

      United goes supersonic

      Weíre excited to share an important milestone in Boomís history. Today, United Airlines announced a commercial agreement to purchase 15 of Boomís Overture airliners, once Overture meets Unitedís demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements, with an option for 35 more aircraft. The net-zero carbon aircraft is optimized to operate on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and Overture is slated to roll out in 2025, fly in 2026 and expected to carry passengers by 2029. This first order for Overture aircraft is a major step toward making mainstream, sustainable supersonic flight a reality.

      The commitment marries Boom and Unitedís shared purpose of uniting the world and connecting people to the moments that matter most. It also validates near-term market demand for commercial supersonic travel.

      ďThe worldís first order of net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step toward our mission to create a more accessible world. At speeds twice as fast, United passengers will experience all the advantages of life lived in person, from deeper, more productive business relationships to longer, more relaxing vacations to far-off destinations.Ē

      --Blake Scholl, Boom Founder & CEO

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      Misterblank


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      Post #78335, posted on 06-03-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      Hmmm, will they let employees standby for supersonic flight?

      And will Zvezda kit this one up too??

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      Post #78336, posted on 06-03-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      Just wait and see, the Concorde also had 16 customers and what happened?

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      Post #78337, posted on 06-03-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      Estimated in-service date is 2029. As remarkable an engineering marvel Concorde was, we really can't compare this to the Concorde. A lot has changed in the roughly 60 years since Concorde's inception and first flight of this.

      Inefficiency killed the Concorde, more than anything else. That's what led to all the cancellations.

      Regards,

      ahmed

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      Post #78339, posted on 06-03-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      Saw this as well today. Grab your popcorn.... 2029 seems a bit aggressive, I'll bet 3:1 that it won't happen. Anybody want to put up a bottle of whisky?

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      Post #78341, posted on 06-04-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      It won't happen at all, meaning going into airline service, or it won't happen by 2029?

      Regards,

      ahmed

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      Post #78342, posted on 06-04-2021 GMT-5 hours    
      I'll go 3:1 against it happening by 2029, and 2:1 against Boom+United happening ever.