back to article NASA funds new supersonic airliner research

NASA has slung a bit of spare change at Lockheed Martin to lead preliminary design work for a mooted supersonic airliner. The US$20 million the agency has set aside for the project – which will be shared with subcontractors GE Aviation and Tri Models – won't get anything off the ground, but it will at least let boffins and …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Supersonic flight

    I'm interested that this QueSST initiative has begun, but I can't help but wonder if this is going to be any more economically feasible than the Concord was.

    Going faster requires more energy, there is no way to avoid that. I'd be quite happy to have a Paris/New York flight in under three hours, but I'm not convinced the bird will be any more a money-maker than its illustrious predecessor.

    Then again, whatever it looks like, I'll be happy for a chance to board it, and thrilled at being told that I've finally reached Mach speed. I'm sure I'm not alone in that, so I guess there's a serious shot for a sustained commercial existence.

    Not to mention that getting to Sidney or Hong Kong in less than 2 days would finally be feasible.

    1. DocJames

      Re: Supersonic flight

      I'd like getting to Mach speed too; but assuming you're UK based I'd suggest that Sydney is (very) roughly twice as far as Hong Kong so the 2 are not really comparable in flight time.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Supersonic flight

      Concorde did make money, but simply didn't have enough routes.

      It was limited to EU to New York because of the boom.

      If it could have been used for more routes then it'd probably still be flying.

      The cost means that I'd probably never have flown on it, but there are plenty of people who would.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Supersonic flight

        I well remember hearing the sonic boom of an evening, growing up in Cornwall... How come we had to put up with it??

        1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

          Re: Supersonic flight

          "I well remember hearing the sonic boom of an evening, growing up in Cornwall... How come we had to put up with it??"

          Not to mention flocks of military birds dashing about. Sometimes going supersonic at stupid'o'clock during their scrambling exercises. Guess you just learn to live with it.

          In distant 80's even Tu-160 sonic booms were survivable. Although they certainly catched some attention.

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Supersonic flight

          Concordes sonic boom

          I think a lot of us didn't mind because it was Concorde, one of the most beautiful aircraft ever, and is pretty British.

          However if there had been hundreds would people have thought the same?

          1. Unep Eurobats
            Go

            Re: Supersonic flight

            Agree that Concorde was beautiful. It did make a horrific amount of noise though, and that was well before it had got anywhere near the speed of sound. So I think the quiet boom isn't really the whole solution.

            1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

              Re: Supersonic flight

              It did make a horrific amount of noise though

              Thirty mumble years ago I was on a training course in Hounslow, in a building right under the flight path into Heathrow. All the windows were triple glazed for sound insulation, which worked brilliantly - you'd see a 747 coming in to land but it seemed to make as much noise as a kite. The one aircraft you could hear, and hear quite loudly, was the lunchtime Concorde flight from the Middle East, which meant it was time for lunch down the pub.

        3. plasmoid

          Re: Supersonic flight

          me too, used to be able to set your clock by it, etc.

          I think I'm getting nostalgic about noise pollution, clearly time for a saffron bun..

        4. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: Supersonic flight

          " ... design work for a mooted supersonic airliner."

          design work for a muted supersonic airliner.

          FTFY

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Floydian Slip

        Re: Supersonic flight

        From an accounting perspective, Concorde made an operating profit.

        However, only 16 were ever in service because of the hoohah the US made over the boom (they just wanted to block the plane because they didn't have one, the Boeing SST being still born)

        Concorde's range was actually pretty short so the really long distance flights were out, the oil crisis meant that other airlines on other long distance routes couldn't afford to fly them and they didn't really make money - all of the development costs were written off by France and the UK and I'm not even sure whether the airlines paid any money for them either (BOAC and Air France).

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Supersonic flight

        "Concorde did make money, but simply didn't have enough routes."

        After all the development costs had been written off...

        The big problem seems to be that it could never have freached the safety levels of modern passenger aircraft. If more had been flying, there would have been more disasters. The situation was more or less that of the Space Shuttle.

        What's more, one of the things that did for Concord was the reduction in cost of international phone calls and the arrival of the Internet. Now we have VR coming; by the time a new generation of SSTs is around, they could well be a curiosity.

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Supersonic flight

      Going faster requires more energy, there is no way to avoid that.

      Apart from more efficient aerodynamics and more efficient powerplants than were available for the last SST aircraft.

      The other costs involved in keeping a machine like Concorde airworthy could also be engineered downwards, meaning that that less expensive and labour intensive specialist engineering and maintenance would be required opening up more routes and making more money.

      1. AndyS

        Re: Supersonic flight

        @werdsmith - all those benefits are also available to conventional (Mach ~0.85) flight, meaning supersonic remains massively more expensive than the alternative.

    4. Tromos

      Re: Supersonic flight

      The main things that hampered Concord economically were range and noise. One or the other, or a combination of both, severely restricted the range of routes available. Solve both of these problems and there wouldn't be a major carrier without supersonic options in its fleet. Even just solving one of the problems could make it a viable proposition.

      1. The First Dave
        Holmes

        Re: Supersonic flight

        No one seems to be picking up on the suggestion that it is even possible to have a 'quiet' sonic boom - sounds impossible to me to do much about it. Laws of Physics and all that...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Supersonic flight

          The boom is the result of pressure differential between the front and rear of the aircraft. Make it long & thin, with other aerodynamic tricks, and it should be possible to smear out the boom into a much less sharp sound.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Supersonic flight

          It's not possible to eliminate it, but it's possible to make it less of a "bang" and more of a "whoompf"

          With approriate shaping it's also possible to direct most of the energy sideways . NASA's previous SST research aircraft looked like a jelly mould on the lower half.

        3. My-Handle Silver badge

          Re: Supersonic flight

          I recall reading an article here on El Reg a few years ago citing research suggesting how this could be done. The rough idea was for an aircraft to have two pairs of wings, arranged such that the shock wave of one would interfere with and cancel out the shock of the other.

          http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/16/supersonic_biplane/

          It is definitely possible to have a 'quiet' sonic boom, the only question is whether we are imaginative and inventive enough to achieve it in a practical manner.

          1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

            Re: Busemann's biplane

            Busemann's biplane design created shock waves on the leading edges and anti-shock waves where the wing thickness reduced. The idea was that the shock waves from each wing would hit the anti shock wave form the other wing - when the plane was going at precisely the right speed. The symmetry of the design ensured no sonic boom. Unfortunately that symmetry also meant the lift was zero. Not a little lift or low lift, but precisely zero lift. Unless the biplane has more buoyancy than mass it isn't going to fly.

            The article My-Handle pointed at did not mention how they solved this problem. Does anyone know?

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Busemann's biplane

              "The article My-Handle pointed at did not mention how they solved this problem. Does anyone know?"

              Waveriding. Leaping boldly back to the Valkerie....

              If the wings are tilted back slightly, pressure builds up under the lower surface and thus you have lift - and a loud boom - there still ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

              Concorde's boom was almost entirely generated by the wings. This is the case with all SSTs large enough to be practical and the best you can do is attempt to direct the shockwaves sideways/upwards so that they disperse in the atmosphere.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_boom - note the photo of the SSBD halfway down the page.

    5. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Supersonic flight

      I'm not convinced the bird will be any more a money-maker than its illustrious predecessor.

      Operationally Concorde made money, it just couldn't recover its development costs because there were so few viable routes because of the boom. Fix that so that US West coast and Middle East are in range of Europe, and they could potentially sell many more. With 150 seats or so it could be comparable with current subsonic business class prices.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Supersonic flight

      I would guess we will get something like the SABRE Jet before, on a ballistic or similar travel plan. So it can leave the atmosphere, and get anywhere in 30 mins... after taxing for 3 hours and waiting in the airport for 5*.

      Example of possible flight plans: http://history.nasa.gov/conghand/fig13d3.gif

      *I have heard of analysis of the Concord saying while it was the quickest flight, the majority of delays customer/travellers notice is at the airport. Reducing that is more a benefit than the flight time.

      1. petboy

        Re: Supersonic flight

        With "Allow three hours to check-in" and then generally another 30-45 minutes at each end of hanging around (if you are lucky) you could beat Concorde's London-NY time simply by having a subsonic private jet where you turn up and go.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Supersonic flight

        "I have heard of analysis of the Concord saying while it was the quickest flight, the majority of delays customer/travellers notice is at the airport. Reducing that is more a benefit than the flight time"

        It's this reason which makes catching the train from London to Paris (or amsterdam) quicker as an end-to-end trip than flying.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Supersonic flight

          It might be quicker via the train, but sometimes it's cheaper in the air. Lol.

          http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/deals-hunter/2016/01/26/flew-home-via-berlin-cheaper-than-train/

  2. DocJames

    The big difference with Concorde...

    ...is that Concorde was designed in the 1950s and built in the 60s. That seems a little while ago now. If they can't do better even on paper, I'd be unimpressed.

    (Now that I've got the whinging out of the way, the design will doubtless be interesting to see how they get around the technical problems)

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: The big difference with Concorde...

      Or did research start earlier?

      Rumours of some German WW2 research involved

  3. Christian Berger

    Now if there was a way to talk to people in far away places...

    ... without actually having to travel, that would render such aerocrafts largely obsolete.

    Then you could just meet people via that way... such as it was predicted in science fiction movies like this one:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqRj3lvvg7Y

    1. Lysenko

      Key features missing...

      Marketdroids, Consultants and other suits value face to face contact for several reasons:

      * Harder for victims to read a novel during PowerPoint

      * Exchange of aftershave vapours breaching Chemical Weapons treaties

      * Intra-group status checking via overly large shiny watches

      * Expense account embezzlement

      * Lap dancing clubs safely distant from the wife/husband

      * Duty free booze/fags

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Now if there was a way to talk to people in far away places...

      There are cases where you need to travel. I definitely would not mind traveling on holiday you know... In that case getting there in 4 hours is not any different than getting there in 6-7. It is still a whole day lost as you lose 4 hours to get to the airport and get on the plane and 2.5-3 hours to get off the plane and to destination from the airport on the other end.

      Supersonic does nothing to address the key constraint in air travel. To put it bluntly, the sky is full. There is simply no more capacity in the air over London and South East of England, Holland, New England, Tokyo metropolis and to a lesser extent other large metropolitan areas.

      Funnily enough 90% of these also happen to be next to large bodies of water and/or the sea as well as existing port facilities. The answer to future air travel is not a supersonic. It is not 2 deck monsters like the 380. It is a Spruce Goose NG - a flying boat, even if it is 100-200mph slower than current planes. It is bleeding obvious and I have seen that come up on several economic analysis so far.

      By the way, if I put my HUGE tinfoil hat on, this is one of the reasons why Бориска Мер Лондонграда, got a hatchet into his estuary airport project. It had an additional future option which all of those incumbents with astronomical investment into land infrastructure were not keen on.

      I'd much rather NASA finance THAT. Otherwise the aircraft our sons and daughters will be flying on holidays will be by Beriev or its Chinese clone. It is also going to be distinctly subsonic :)

      1. Andy E
        Meh

        Re: Now if there was a way to talk to people in far away places...

        I might be missing your point here but the type of runway required doesn't have a bearing on your main point that the skies are full. Once flying boats are airborne they need to be channeled into the routes used by passenger aircraft which as you rightly point out are very congested.

        Andy

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Now if there was a way to talk to people in far away places...

          "they need to be channeled into the routes used by passenger aircraft"

          It's those routes which are the actual problem.

          Routing is invariably from waypoint to waypoint, putting all the aircraft in a small sector of the sky, leaving 90% of the rest of the sky aircraft-free.

          They date back to the days of manual control when it was advantageous to have everyone in one area, but that is a liability as densities increase.

          Several proposals for managing airspace congestion centre on the idea of doing away with "airways" (routing lanes) and use GPS-enhanced navigation to put aircraft on direct routes between airports.

          At the very least, separating airways in different directions horizontally by some amount (as well as the vertical 1000 foot separation) would enhance safety. This is also being considered.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Now if there was a way to talk to people in far away places...

        "[...] a flying boat,"

        Having watched videos of some of the planes landing in recent high winds - what are the wave height limits for flying boats? Sweeping the landing zone of submerged debris could also be challenging.

      3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Now if there was a way to talk to people in far away places...

        Supersonic does nothing to address the key constraint in air travel. To put it bluntly, the sky is full.

        Other than immediately over airports like LHR the sky is pretty empty. The key constraint in air travel is the time it takes to get to the airport, park, faff around for an hour's checkin/bag drop delay and two hours security theatre, all for a 1 hour flight.

        Supersonic transport is never going to be a replacement for 4-hour holiday flights, but for 10-18 hour business longhaul flights there's a definite market for something that can shave a day or two off a business trip.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Now if there was a way to talk to people in far away places...

          IIRC most of the UK air space is reserved for the MOD. Civilian traffic has to keep to its allowed lanes to avoid "free running" planes.

          1. petboy

            Re: Now if there was a way to talk to people in far away places...

            IIRC most of the UK air space is reserved for the MOD. Civilian traffic has to keep to its allowed lanes to avoid "free running" planes.

            Nope, the vast majority of the UK airspace is "Class G" - totally free and open, you don't have to talk to anyone.

            There is no "MOD Airspace". There are zones around airfields, same as any airfield. Even the "Military" ATZ is not legally enforceable.

            You may be thinking of the meaningless "Areas of Intense Aerial Activity" or "Low Flying Zones" in some remote parts of the country. Neither of which are controlled or exclude normal aircraft.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Now if there was a way to talk to people in far away places...

            "IIRC most of the UK air space is reserved for the MOD"

            Not so. Around the world, with a few local/national variations, airspace is divided into seven Classes (A to G) in accordance with ICAO specifications. The major difference between the classes with regard to access is the degree of ATC control. Entry in to ICAO class A - D airspace requires ATC clearance under all flight rules, entry in to class E requires ATC clearance under IFR & SVFR but not for VFR. ATC clearance is not required to access classes F & G. Broadly speaking, classes A to E are referred to as Controlled Airspace (with the exception of VFR flights in class E) and classes F & G are Uncontrolled Airspace.

            However, within these classes and zones, there are a number of relatively small areas where further military/security restrictions or controls apply e.g. AERE Harwell in the UK and Thurmont, Maryland, the site of the Presidential retreat Camp David.

            Military aircraft, when not operating within one of the military/security areas mentioned above must comply with the appropriate rules for the ICAO class of airspace within which it is flying.

            I believe, that these days, in the UK at least, most military aircraft stay in controlled airspace, in part because there were a couple of mid-air collisions between fighters transiting in VFR i.e. at low-level and light/GA aircraft, which also generally operate in VFR; the speed at which the fighters were travelling didn't leave enough time for the 'see and avoid' VFR rule to work.

      4. Lysenko

        To put it bluntly, the sky is full.

        No, piloting/navigation systems are inadequate and unlike distorting space/time that is a technological problem rather than a physical one.

        It doesn't make a blind bit of difference if two vehicles are 100m apart or 5km so long as you can maintain those distances reliably and the existence of aerobatic display teams (or even many military airlifts) illustrates that you can get a damn sight closer than that even now.

        We are a LONG way from cracking this of course and it might well involve all aircraft under direct air traffic computer control, however it is still just a question of making incremental technology improvements rather than inventing entirely new approaches to the problem.

      5. petboy

        Re: Now if there was a way to talk to people in far away places...

        To put it bluntly, the sky is full. There is simply no more capacity in the air over London and South East of England, Holland, New England, Tokyo metropolis and to a lesser extent other large metropolitan areas.

        Having flown in it, I can assure you it is mostly empty. The reason you see aircraft "stacking" is because there are no runways on which to land them. Aircraft are really tiny in comparison with the amount of air around and even with the spacing required by old-fashioned ATC systems they can get pretty close. The FAA is working on bringing down the separation requirements and even our Air Traffic guys are working on "Continuous Descent Approaches" where the aircraft are sequenced from way out over the sea to avoid the "stacking" problem.

        It is a Spruce Goose NG - a flying boat,

        The reason for Flying Boats in the 1930s-1940s was because the technology did not exist to make sufficiently robust undercarriage in the absence of long hard runways. Spreading the load over a hull made it much easier to build heavier aircraft. It also avoided having to build a really long runway or deal with crosswinds, whereas after WWII there were loads of long runways and lots built on the three-runway military pattern, together with a wide range of heavy duty tyres and landing gear. Better piloting techniques and the increase in nosewheel rather than tailwheel aircraft (more tolerant of a crosswind) sidestepped the drawbacks which had driven the use of flying boats.

        The penalty of that huge hull is massive drag, as you note it would mean aircraft would be much slower but they would also burn huge amounts of fuel. Not many people would be keen on a 24 hour Atlantic Transit that cost £2000 for a cattle-class seat!

        If you do a seaplane rating you will also find there are distinct limits on how rough the sea can be for a landing, so you would need to build massive (really massive) artificial harbours.

        The Caspian Sea Monster and other ekranoplanes require very smooth water so are not really relevant to North Sea/Atlantic/Pacific operations. Inland waters only really.

      6. bep

        Re: Now if there was a way to talk to people in far away places...

        "6 - 7 hours" doesn't even get you beyond the border of the country I live in. Some of us live a lot more than that away from places we'd like to go. Perhaps you'd also like to go to the West Coast of the USA? South America? Thailand? If you're satisfied with Benidorm you could always drive and enjoy the scenery along the way.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Now if there was a way to talk to people in far away places...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqRj3lvvg7Y

      That was interesting, especially the logistics of laying 1000's of miles of undersea cable. I thought it a bid odd that at the US end they chose to use radio relays for much of the relatively short route from New York to Newfoundland though.

  4. AndyS

    @Voland: flying boats

    Sadly, there are fewer real benefits than you'd imagine once you try and scale up. Firstly, you still need terminal buildings, with all associated air bridges, lounges, customs, baggage handling etc. Look at a typical large airport and you've probably several miles of external walls along which aircraft dock. Every point of that needs luggage and people moved to/from it constantly.

    Then there's security - how do you propose to effectively secure a large area of open ocean?

    Finally, there's weather. Large aircraft need remarkably smooth landing surfaces, whether at sea or on land. Waves of any size at all would close the air.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: @Voland: flying boats

      The major limitation of the seaplanes here is that they can only land in daylight.

      Jolly difficult to make landing lights on the water

      So an airport that can only operate form 8:00 to 3:00 in winter is a challenge

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: @Voland: flying boats

        "Jolly difficult to make landing lights on the water"

        We need sharks with frikken' lasers!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Air travel should be replaced by some form of vacuum tube travel (i.e. the proposed hyperloop), but until the governments of the world can stop squabbling like babies that will never happen for long routes.

    My only problem with Elon Musks hyperloop proposal is that they seem to make out it was 'his idea' bull, watch Genesis 2, or read some history books, the idea of running maglev inside a vacuum tube is old...

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! ?

      I'm not sure I want to be in a capsule belting along supersonically in an evacuated tunnel underground across seismic fault zones, thank you very much.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! ?

        I never said underground, above ground makes more sense in most places, and is cheaper of course.. its basically a rail line that is enclosed and I suspect will be elevated on 'floating' supports of some kind in areas that are prone to earthquakes.

        My suggestion would be to build it over existing rail lines, that way you need no new space, just a few supports and the tube... Power will already be there(assuming your rail network is electrified already) and if not, its the perfect time to electrify the rail network and get rid of dirty diesels for cargo transport...

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          build it over existing rail lines

          Taking a 500m curve at mach 5 may be Superman's idea of a fun ride but it ain't mine

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! ?

        Current proposals for transoceanic tunnels have them suspended in the water around 200-500 feet down.

        This is far enough to avoid being damaged by things like tsunamis, although they'd have to tunnel where there's continental shelf.

    2. rh587

      "My only problem with Elon Musks hyperloop proposal is that they seem to make out it was 'his idea' bull, watch Genesis 2, or read some history books, the idea of running maglev inside a vacuum tube is old..."\

      Tubes may be old school, but Hyperloop doesn't propose maglev. It uses air-bearings, which are a novel solution to the difficulty of maintaining a perfect vacuum - and puts errant ingressed air to good use rather than having to punch through it!

  6. Stephen Wilkinson

    Must admit I miss seeing Concorde go over us of an evening when I was growing up in North Devon and breaking the sound barrier. I don't remember anyone having a particular issue with it

  7. tempemeaty
    Facepalm

    Oops sorry. Can't go to Mars. Spent the money elsewhere...

    Nice to see they're finding ways to spend money on others things so they can later claim not to be funded well enough to do the Mars trip after all. Enough burning up money continuing to go in circles around the earth. It's time to get off the pot NASA & Congress.

    It looks like Mars is going to the Chinese. NASA and every politician in the US Gov are going to be disgraced for centuries.

    1. cray74

      Re: Oops sorry. Can't go to Mars. Spent the money elsewhere...

      Nice to see they're finding ways to spend money on others things so they can later claim not to be funded well enough to do the Mars trip after all.

      The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which grew out of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, shouldn't be spending all of its budget on space. It has a mission statement including aeronautics research, with lasting achievements like the NACA series airfoils, hypersonic flight data from the X-15, and other aerodynamics programs. Applying 0.1% of its annual budget to another supersonic airliner is entirely within its purview and hardly denting the budget for Mars missions.

  8. imanidiot Silver badge
    Coat

    Marketing fluff

    NASA is dressing it's aerodynamics research in a bit of "it's for civilian use, honest gov'ner." In the end the benefit for this will probably fall with military aircraft and applications.

    I highly doubt we'll ever see a mass transit SST materialise. Maybe some supersonic private jets for the ultra rich of this world.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Marketing fluff

      Well, it's a convenient way of funneling money in the military-industrial complex parallel to the defense budget.

      On the other hand, this is some interesting research that will increase knowledge and have applications some day, not necessarily only for military use.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Marketing fluff

        The research will also be available to any civilian makers of supersonic cruise missiles

  9. Tim Soldiers

    Seems a weird divergence to me.

    Surely the future of superfast transport is SABRE outside of the atmosphere ... so no ( mid flight ) boom

    Sydney in hours

    1. MrXavia

      Well more likely the LAPCAT project or similar I suspect... now if only Airbus would join up with Reaction Engines and fund this through to prototype!

      I would certainly pay a higher price for reduced travel time, right now I pay almost double for better seats when I fly, I'd pay the same for cattle class seats but half the flight time!

      http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/lapcat.html

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Lapcat? Pah! This is where the Yanks beat us Brits hands down pretty much all of the time. We use descriptive names that make sense then produce a lame sounding acronym/name/word from it. The Yanks find a cool sounding name then tortuously reverse engineer some sort of descriptive phrase into the backronym.

      2. Tampax

        Reaction Engine project exists only on paper..If it was that easy , to Orbit in one stage ,then USA & Russia would have done this 60 years ago!

  10. MJI Silver badge

    Would Airbus be a better bet?

    Well they do have previous!

  11. andy gibson

    Good timing

    As this is mainly Concorde chat, this is a timely link to the late, great George Kennedy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdwoWbBduxw

  12. smartypants

    We are thinking the wrong way

    We are always in such a hurry, but there is an alternative.

    The future surely is to have very large and slow craft with piano bars, cocktail lounges and places for people to dress up and make out with each other to while away the hours and days, perhaps with a murder or two to solve, and, if possible, the occasional encounter with a giant squid.

    I'll get my dinner jacket...

    1. cray74

      Re: We are thinking the wrong way

      and, if possible, the occasional encounter with a giant squid.

      I believe the Bel Geddes Flying Wing meets the criteria. It was a giant sea plane with promenade, cafe, bar, lounge, gym, solarium, and plenty of suites for 600 passengers.

    2. Allonymous Coward

      How large?

      If it needs to be very large, perhaps we could call the vehicle "Gigantic" or something.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: How large?

        ...or Hindenburg.

        Slightly more seriously, there is a marker for cruise ships so there may be a market for cruise airships. Not everyone is in a hurry. For some people, part of the holiday is the getting there.

  13. Graham Marsden

    How are you going to see to land it?!

    Concorde had the famous "Droop snoot" which allowed the nose to hinge downwards to enable the pilots to see to land. Unless this has cameras in the nose, that snoot would have to be *very* droopy to let this happen.

    PS Concorde: The only operational civilian passenger aeroplane with afterburners!

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: How are you going to see to land it?!

      Of course there will be cameras in the nose - computers don't have eyes.

    2. cray74

      Re: How are you going to see to land it?!

      Unless this has cameras in the nose, that snoot would have to be *very* droopy to let this happen.

      The 1990s High Speed Civil Transport program planned on cameras to avoid the weight penalty of a droopy nose. It was called the, "eXternal Visibility System" component of the HSCT program.

  14. Captain DaFt

    I hate to be a spoilsport

    But why bother punching your way through dense atmosphere halfway around the world, when you could launch to near space, ride above the atmosphere until ready to re-enter and land at the destination?

    Faster, quieter, more fuel efficient, plus the passengers get to say, "I've been in Spaaacce!", what's not to like?

  15. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Yes, a local NY news station was blithering about this and pointed out that everyone knows about sonic booms because Concorde flew in and out of JFK.

    The IQ brigade had obviously done nil research because the Americans wouldn't let Concorde land in the USA until an agreement never to cross the sound barrier over US land had been hammered out. No one in NY ever heard Concorde break the sound barrier.

    What they did hear, assuming their eardrums survived first contact, was the earsplitting sound of the engines on takeoff.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Concorde, always a marginal contributor to both BA's and Air France's bottom lines,

    UK and France subsidized the development of the Concorde for national pride which has been a money-loser since before the July, 2000 crash; but its prestige was never in doubt.

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