back to article Heir-to-Concorde demo model to debut in October

The beardy-Branson backed company attempting to build a new supersonic airliner will reveal its tech to the world in October. Known as “Boom Supersonic”, the company has previously teased a 2023 takeoff for a 55-seater plane capable of hopping from London to New York in three hours and fifteen minutes for a round trip price of …

  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

    There's a company in the South West that is worth billions, making precise measuring equipment for aerospace and the semiconductor industries, amongst others. You can see their probe in the iPhone 5 release video (it's used to check the milling accuracy on the case), Samsung are also customers. The company was built around a measuring probe developed by a Rolls Royce engineer when he was helping develop the engines for Concorde.

    1. David Bird

      Is the name Renishaw meant to be a secret?

      They have a lovely technology demonstration centre.

  2. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Is London to New York the only route that makes sense for a supersonic airliner in the 2020s? I appreciate that they were both financial centres with wealthy companies and individuals, and that most of the route was over water so the sonic boom didn't disturb too many people.

    Anyway, the rich are getting richer as they always do, and it's easier to fill a 50 seat aircraft with paying customers than it is a 100 seat plane, all things being equal.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Depends on the "boom"

      A lot will depend on how much they manage to muffle that sonic boom. If they can get it down to a distant rumble, rather than Concorde's distinctive, and allegedly greenhouse-smashing, "Boom-Boom", then I could see other possibilities, W. Europe to Middle-East for example. Range will be an issue, of course.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Depends on the "boom"

        Where I used to live, in Bavaria, and where I now work, in Lower Saxony, we get regular supersonic training flights from the local Luftwaffe bases. It keeps the dust from settling on the rafters.

        1. Lon24
          Trollface

          Re: Depends on the "boom"

          Did Beardy own a chunk of FlyBe? Resurect that as the tax haven based airline that flies tax exiles out of the country. UK - Jersey is mostly over water and sorts the range issue. If HS2 business case is built on saving 20 minutes to Birmingham then this must be a cert ...

          1. Phil Parker

            Re: Depends on the "boom"

            "If HS2 business case is built on saving 20 minutes to Birmingham " - it's not.

            1. NeilPost Bronze badge

              Re: Depends on the "boom"

              ... the business case is and always has been bollocks.

              There will be massive shifts in commuting behaviour now post CV19, so HS2 business case is now double bollocks.

              1. Dave559 Bronze badge

                Re: Depends on the "boom"

                The time that trains will save travelling on the first section of HS2 will also result in journey time savings for trains travelling from/to further north, providing an initial journey time improvement for those journeys as well.

                London, Birmingham, it's not just about you…

                The next stages would then result in further time savings for further destinations, and, who knows, maybe eventually high speed links will be completed to Newcastle and Edinburgh/Glasgow as well, making train travel a properly competitive alternative to almost all internal flights.

                (But don't get me wrong, building many HS2 stations as terminuses, rather than through stations, is completely stupid.)

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Depends on the "boom"

          In the UK we get the occasional boom from Typhoons scrambled because sleeping civilian pilots didn’t respond to radio contact.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Depends on the "boom"

        I wonder if Zoom will kill the Boom?

        Or perhaps 1/1/21 will kill of any London/NY route stone dead.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Depends on the "boom"

        Concorde broke a glass jug of water in my kitchen around 1985 in Woodley, Reading.

        1. JDPower

          Re: Depends on the "boom"

          How big is your kitchen?!

        2. TheProf Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Depends on the "boom"

          "Concorde broke a glass jug of water in my kitchen around 1985 in Woodley, Reading."

          Or that's what you told your mum.

      4. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Depends on the "boom"

        rather than Concorde's distinctive, and allegedly greenhouse-smashing, "Boom-Boom",

        Or maybe it was Basil Brush with a half-brick?

    2. Gonzo wizard Bronze badge

      The rich are getting richer

      Wealth becoming more concentrated, so pool of potential customers likewise will be shrinking...

      1. HildyJ Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: The rich are getting richer

        You mistake the market. Rich tourists who flew the Concorde will be more attracted to space or edge of space tourism.This seems targeted at rich companies' executives and their aides who are more concerned with time (and connectivity) than price.

      2. BenDwire Silver badge

        Re: The rich are getting richer

        Or as Paul Weller sang, "Too much money in not enough places"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Is London to New York the only route that makes sense for a supersonic airliner in the 2020s?"

      I guess up and down the east or west coast of America?

      1. DS999

        Not far enough

        Those distances up and down the US coasts are too short. The small gain in travel time would be hardly noticeable compared to all the delays getting to the airport, going through security, etc. You'd save more time with a private non-supersonic 'NetJets' type trip that let you fly between smaller non-commercial airports where there's no TSA and you can be dropped off on the tarmac.

        I would think the west coast of the US to Asia/Australia would be well worth it, if they had the range. That's shaving off many hours of travel time, and that's probably a busier route in the modern world than NYC to London. Especially once Brexit has fully taken hold.

        1. chrisw67

          Re: Not far enough

          That's quite a range increase: the north Atlantic is a puddle. LHR-JFK 2999 nautical miles, LAX-SYD 6507, LAX-Shanghai 5635, LAX-Seoul 5209. Even running LAX-HNL-SYD gives a 2220-4400 mile split.

          Concorde's range was 3900 nautical miles for comparison. In its promotional runs to Sydney (eastwards) it needed two fuel stops and was speed limited over most land masses.

          1. Annihilator Silver badge

            Re: Not far enough

            "the north Atlantic is a puddle"

            Or indeed, a pond.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        US Cities

        Would be better off with HSR not SST.

        US needs to see the French solution, or our 40 year old solution.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          Re: US Cities

          Or the Chinese/Japanese solution – Maglev.

    4. Steve K Silver badge

      Is this a fax moment?

      I wonder whether we are seeing the equivalent (at least in the UK) of what happened in the late 1980s when there was a postal strike and consequently the demand for and usage of fax machines went through the roof.

      Obviously some use cases (e.g. parcels) could not be replaced by faxes, but a lot of volume in smaller letters was taken out of the postal market by the time this strike was over. Then around 10 years after that, it was the turn of faxes to be superseded (not entirely) by email.

      Similarly I wonder whether remote working means that less business air travel will be needed post-COVID19. ( realise that this will be nowhere near a 100% reduction).

      With this project, surely they will encounter the same issues that Concorde faced with sonic booms if their flight path is over land (whether real or whether concocted to protect incumbent aviation manufacturing interests)?

    5. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      > Anyway, the rich are getting richer as they always do

      Nope. Just because it's a common saying doesn't make it true.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        "Nope. Just because it's a common saying doesn't make it true."

        Robust citation needed, along with your definition of "rich". I don't see many cases of the rich getting poorer en masse.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Generally, the world over, everybody is getting richer, just some more than others.

        2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Consumption inequality is ( approximately ) the lowest it's ever been.

          Consumption inequality is what actually matters. There's a wealth of information on the topic here: www.google.com

          1. Lon24

            The top google result for me was: "Over the past five decades, both income and consumption inequality have risen" - Economics21.org

            A quick skim across various graphs supports this. Perhaps you could share your source?

            1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

              The data you've looked at intentionally excludes *what is already done*. So X million people in the UK can't afford to eat. If you ignore the benefits system. etc.

              It intentionally ignores things like public services such as the health service. You consume the equivalent of approx £3.5k/year in NHS "insurance", for example.

              When those things are taken into account, consumption inequality is (approximately) down.

              1. Lon24

                You defined the data set and the source. The results of that source pointing to numerous peer reviewed sources which pointed solidly the other way.

                FYI most of the stats applied to societies which had no "NHS insurance". Banging a cat on the table doesn't disguise your extremely misleading post. It's also an insult to us who has seen the explosion in luxury housing matched by the homeless on our streets.

          2. jake Silver badge

            "Consumption inequality is ( approximately ) the lowest it's ever been."

            Except among the common people, of course.

  3. Real Ale is Best
    Flame

    Starship?

    I wonder if this will be superseded by extra-atmospheric flight by reusable rockets.

    New York to Sidney in an hour...

    1. Gonzo wizard Bronze badge

      Re: Starship?

      An hour - and more, or less greenhouse gasses per mile? Plus, a rocket launch is so disruptive to the local environment (sound shockwaves especially) that Starliner would quickly become known as the Ryanair of rockets because you can't have a frequently used launchpad close to your population.

      1. steelpillow Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Starship?

        Actually, given an air-breathing rocket such as SABRE, a sub-orbital rocket plane makes a lot of sense. For example:

        * The spaceplane takes off horizontally from an airport runway like any other jet airliner. Rocket-powered does not mean vertical-launch, it does not need a launchpad, uh ... okaaay?

        * An airbreathing rocket will be no louder than a turbofan with reheat.

        * The sonic boom on the outward leg is directed upwards and little if any makes it to ground level.

        * The spaceplane spends most of its journey in ballistic spaceflight, burning zero fuel. "Please do not undo your seat belt" though!

        * Its engines would only be restarted as a safety precaution in case the landing was aborted at the last minute, so more fuel saved there.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Starship?

          "An airbreathing rocket will be no louder than a turbofan with reheat." so that's London out of the way as an airport for it.

          1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

            Re: Starship?

            I don't know, apparently, the residents around Heathrow are just begging for it (or so we are told by some politicians - disclaimer, 300 odd miles north of London I have no skin in the game from there nopise point of view).

          2. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Starship? Reheat

            From what I have read the locals around Heathrow did not mind Concorde noise as it gave them a chance to go and see it.

            1. 96percentchimp

              Re: Starship? Reheat

              Maybe for a few days in the 1960s when it was a new thing. I don't recall anyone giving a crap about Concorde when Iived and worked in Hounslow in the late 1990s.

              I worked in a crappy office a mile or so north of Heathrow, without air con or double glazing. The main benefit of Concorde's afternoon flight (around 5pm) was that it told you the working day was almost over.

    2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Starship?

      > New York to Sidney in an hour...

      Given that Sidney, NY is only 3 hours or so by road from New York, NY then flying there in an hour should be pretty easy. Unless of course you meant Sydney, Australia, in which case that might be a bit more of a challenge.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Starship?

        Did you mean New York USA or New York UK?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Starship?

          No, New York, North Yorkshire.

          Sadly, according to the rarely mentioned Ilkley Moor rules, as published in "The Dalesman" in 1978 (October issue, I think ... naturally, it was raining), that puts us both firmly in Nidd.

    3. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Starship?

      > New York to Sidney in an hour...

      Add 3 additional hours waiting and going through security controls / customs... (And I don't count the trip to and from the airport, which usually is not anywhere near the place you start from or go to.)

      1. AK565

        Re: Starship?

        Exactly, which is why I think smaller (~50 seat) long distance planes that can fly dirctly between sub- & ex-urban airports will eventually become more popular.

  4. monty75

    Great timing

    Just as the world is realising that it can do business without having to leave home. Still, at least we'll be able to spread the next pandemic at supersonic speeds

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: world is realising that it can do business without having to leave home

      it's not about "can do", i's about "can afford so I will", same as with Concorde

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Great timing

      You obviously haven't met many investment bankers or the seriously rich, who tend to think nothing of jetting off somewhere for the slightest reason. The capacity of around 50 sounds reasonable. Even with the current restrictions I can see this being very popular with some, assuming the travel experience is better than being on concorde, which apparently wasn't so good.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Great timing

        "assuming the travel experience is better than being on concorde, which apparently wasn't so good."

        Frankly, my little Cessna is more comfy and a hell of a lot quieter, leading to a much nicer flight, than Concorde. Still, I'm pretty happy that a company I worked for saw fit to spring for me to take a Concorde a couple of times ... even if I did need a nap after we landed. Fun experience, but I wouldn't want to commute in one.

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Re: Great timing

          Yes, only one trip in my case (there was a bit of a kerfuffle and my company sprung for a one way trip - back on a rather slower but very much more comfortable flight). Interesting and noisy experience, but I could not take advantage of any of the champagne on offer - I was working an hour after landing.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Great timing

          "Frankly, my little Cessna is more comfy and a hell of a lot quieter"

          What sort of "little Cessna" have you got? Those things are nicknamed "Spamcans" for a reason! Unless it's a Citation, in which case I'll concede your point.

          The biggest advantage to Concorde was you could start work in Britain, jet across to a meeting in the States and jet back home again the same day - unlike a conventional flight, where it would take at lest three days and you would end up with jet lag for another day or two.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Great timing

            She's an A152, and fits me like a glove. Comfort is subjective :-)

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Great timing

      The solution to travel time is to make your sleep time your travel time. Travel in 10 hour sectors to suit your own time zone, spend the whole time asleep. Treat the flight as a hotel room, instead of sleeping overnight in a hotel, then travelling through the next day.

      This is how the night sleeper between London and north works. It’s a hotel on the move. You get on board, have a meal and a drink then go to bed and wake up at your destination.

      Jet lag notwithstanding.

      1. DS999

        Re: Great timing

        I've found it works FAR better to take an evening flight from the US to Europe and stay awake the entire flight, and upon landing until after dark. I may be up for a day and a half or so that way but I wake up feeling refreshed and am immediately adjusted to the new time zone. Going the other way is even easier, because I'm only up about 24 hours.

        Sleeping on a plane just messes you up, I learned the hard way never to do that again.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Great timing

          I always slept the red eye. The only way I could stand it.

        2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

          Re: Great timing

          They won't let me sleep on the plane, but that's probably because I sleep in the nude... =-D

        3. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Re: Great timing

          I generally did sleep on long haul flights - especially as I was generally in business class. What I never did was drink anything other than water.

          1. DS999

            Re: Great timing

            Perhaps the reason sleeping on a plane always messed me up is that I'm generally unable to take naps without rendering it very difficult if not impossible for me to get to sleep within the next eight hours.

            I've always been a 'short sleeper'. My mom told me when I was a baby I was only sleeping about 8 hours at night and could never be put down for a nap, and all her friends were telling her there must be something wrong because babies should sleep a lot more than that.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Great timing

        I was a global network troubleshooter from the early '80s thru' the late '90s ... at any given hour I could expect to be flying off to anywhere on the planet. 0.25mg melatonin 45 minutes before "local bedtime" on the first night out, and I was fine for the duration of the trip ... until the next timezone. Lather, rinse, repeat ... I experienced no ill effects, could wake up immediately if required, and apparently it's not addictive (all unlike alcohol, sleeping pills, etc.).

        Yes, I know, "studies indicate", yadda yadda yadda. I am not a doctor, this is not a prescription, might be illegal in your jurisdiction, etc.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Great timing

          I've heard prominent scientists on the ABC Science Show (though not necessarily in the field of medicine) swear by their own personal use of melatonin when jetting about the planet to attend conferences. I'm told it's sold in the USA as a food supplement, whereas it's not available in the UK without a prescription.

          It's naturally occuring in the human body, and I've not heard anything negative about. However, there is a lot of evidence about many negative health effects of night shift working.

      3. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Great timing

        Treat the flight as a hotel room, instead of sleeping overnight in a hotel, then travelling through the next day.

        That's part of how I backpacked around Europe 15 years ago, using overnight sleeper trains to get between (relatively) distant points within Europe.

        The problem doing this with current aircraft though is that noise curfews at either or both of the source and destination airports might not fit within that pattern.

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Re: Great timing

          I remember using Greyhound busses to sleep on during a month in the US in the late 70s. And like you did the same c/o Interrail in Europe.

    4. Potemkine!

      Re: Great timing

      Also building a new aircraft with new engines using fossil fuel is not a great idea.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Great timing

        Not a great idea to increase the fuel efficiency, power/weight ratio, longevity and etc. of a system that is going to be with us for at least another century? How do you figure?

        Besides, most such engines can be made to run on ethanol (or methanol), which (last time I checked) will be with us for a long, long time.

    5. TeeCee Gold badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Great timing

      Did you mean: "Just as the world's businesses are staring at the economic disaster caused by not being able to leave home.".

  5. AdrianMontagu

    Lost Opportunities

    Why oh why can't the UK follow through with the technologies that it develops?

    Concorde

    Maglev

    etc

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Lost Opportunities

      Because we'd rather spend 40 years gently tweaking something and let everyone else forge ahead. Mini 1000 I'm looking at you.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Lost Opportunities

        Arguably, for what it was and what it was intended for, the original Mini didn't need much improvement. That's what makes it such an icon of automotive design. My 1962 Mini is one of the few cars that I've ever owned that I haven't changed anything on.

        1. Stork Silver badge

          Re: Lost Opportunities

          If you still have it, do you by any chance live somewhere rather dry and without salt on the roads?

          Cause in the UK and the rest of NW Europe, they were in a hurry to return to their more stable oxidation state.

    2. Gonzo wizard Bronze badge

      Re: Lost Opportunities

      We like to tinker, and lose interest once the problems have been solved. Then US (or Chinese, or Japanese) companies swoop in and buy up the results of our research. If they can't turn a profit in a year, then it gets canned all over again.

      See also INMOS (the Transputer) and ARM Holdings...

      1. tfb Silver badge

        Re: Lost Opportunities

        Well, in the case of Concorde, this isn't true, I think. We may have lost interest but no-one else made any supersonic airliners (the abortive Soviet thing excepted) either, because, I suspect, it turns out that supersonic airliners are not actually that interesting.

        It will be interesting to see what happens to this: surely the kind of companies which used to fly senior people between London and NY have now discovered that you don't need to do that because the internet exists. That leaves rich individuals who want to fly from one CV19 hotspot to another I suppose (I know, just because you fly to a London airport does not mean you're going to London, but still).

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Lost Opportunities

          "it turns out that supersonic airliners are not actually that interesting."

          There was also an element of "Not Invented Here" no-fly bans too.

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Lost Opportunities

            But nothing was quite like the fuel crisis to price it so that it could never be come sustainable.

            1. tfb Silver badge

              Re: Lost Opportunities

              I believe Concorde ran at an operating profit (obviously it did not repay its development cost). Still, this is perhaps right: although the existing planes were profitable it may have clear that new planes (even new Concordes, while that was still possible) would never repay their purchase cost.

              1. phuzz Silver badge

                Re: Lost Opportunities

                BA (and Air France) had the advantage that they didn't have to pay the fast majority of the R&D costs, they were all paid by the British and French taxpayers.

                Ignoring those costs though, BA at least managed to make a profit off of Concorde (even ignoring the publicity it brought). This was helped by the bright idea of asking their passengers (most of whom presumably had their secretary/PA buying the tickets) how much they thought that a ticket cost. This turned out to be quite a bit more than the actual ticket price, so BA bumped the prices up to what the market could evidently bare.

                1. not.known@this.address Silver badge

                  Re: Lost Opportunities

                  "BA (and Air France) had the advantage that they didn't have to pay the fast majority of the R&D costs, they were all paid by the British and French taxpayers"

                  That's because BA and Air France are airlines not aircraft manufacturers... although it's also worth pointing out they *did* pay for the research - why do you think Concorde cost more than, say a Boeing 747?

          2. tfb Silver badge

            Re: Lost Opportunities

            I don't think this accounts for it. There definitely was that problem, but what stopped the US, say, from building their own version which would conveniently have been deemed sufficiently quiet to evade the bans? I think that lack of demand stopped them.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
              Headmaster

              Re: Lost Opportunities

              I don't think this accounts for it. There definitely was that problem, but what stopped the US, say, from building their own version which would conveniently have been deemed sufficiently quiet to evade the bans? I think that lack of demand stopped them.

              That would probably be the Boeing 2707?

              It did begin to happen, but got canned due to funding, environmental and a few technical issues before it became an actual thing.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Lost Opportunities

      Because the people who will be flying in this thing kill them off here as soon as they see them blossoming.

    4. not.known@this.address Silver badge

      Re: Lost Opportunities

      Why don't we follow through?

      Because politicians or short-sighted bean-counters and managers sell the new developments off for a quick buck - or even worse, the politicians often give it away (and almost always to the Yanks).

      1. Vometia Munro

        Re: Lost Opportunities

        "(and almost always to the Yanks)"

        Who will then claim to have invented it.

    5. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Lost Opportunities

      Don't forget that Concorde was a joint project with France. It wasn't just British technology.

      (Judging from how many French people I know who work at Filton, it's a project that's still bearing fruit).

      But to answer your question: Money.

    6. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: Lost Opportunities

      When talking about US industry, Jay Leno said "We're becoming like the British. We like noble failures". He wasn't wrong in his assessment of attitudes in Britain.

  6. osakajin Bronze badge

    Let's hope it doesn't go boom

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Joke

      It'll be okay as long as they don't wing it.

    2. Annihilator Silver badge
      Coat

      To be fair, if it doesn't, it's failed in its supersonic objective...

  7. Gonzo wizard Bronze badge
    Meh

    Interesting engineering challenges

    While this and Starship (mentioned in another reply) are both interesting engineering challenges I fail to see how either can fit in to the future of global transport. Starship is probably a decade away from being certified for such activity - if ever. Development and certification of a fifty seater supersonic aircraft likewise. Then factor in the steep development costs, the coming recession, environmental issues and the very real quite high cost of using such services...

    Do sufficient numbers of people really need to move around the globe that quickly to make either of these things viable? I think not. Some people may want this kind of service, some may believe it is needed, but I think their time has come and gone.

    I'd like to hope we are sufficiently forward looking to realise that given the state of our planet, these are not paths we should be going down.

    1. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Interesting engineering challenges

      I'd be interested in the carbon emissions story of these things. It's pretty easy to work out some values for orbital and beyond orbital systems, because the Δv requirements are well-known and the rocket equation tells you useful things (and I've done that and the result is: exploratory missions have very negligible impact but we will never send large numbers (millions) of people to LEO or higher with rockets using fossil fuels unless the hugely larger number of people who stay behind like dying). But for suborbital flights it's much more complicated. I assume they're fairly horrible though.

      Like you, I think their time is gone: the whole thing is now being driven by people who read various science fiction books (I read those books too) in which people take the spaceplane from London to Tokyo in an hour, and believe that world can happen because they can't, or won't, do the maths which shows it can't. Or, worryingly, they can and don't care.

      And of course I am expecting drive-by downvotes because I dare to actually be capable of doing the maths and in fact actually do the maths rather than believe in the convenient science-fiction myths.

  8. Trollslayer Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Can it reduce the time spent at airports

    And getting to/from airports?

    This will be more than the flight time at each end.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

      If Greta wants the world to use less air travel all she has to do is persuade the politicians to increase the check-in & arrivals checks.

      Just claim the extra checks are "for terrorism" or "think of the children" and no-one will complain.

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

        But this is for the rich, normal rules do not spply.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: But this is for the rich

          Who will be flying in their own private jets from small airports and therefore avoiding the queues.

          Even CV-19 has not stopped the private jets using places like Farnborough.

      2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

        > If Greta wants the world to use less air travel all she has to do is persuade the politicians to increase the check-in & arrivals checks.

        Perhaps we can all sail in Olympic-standard competition yachts instead? Building a few more of those out of carbon fibre will count as a carbon sink. Doubly so if they actually sink.

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

        If Greta's parents want the world to use less air travel, perhaps they should ask Al Gore and others why they continue to take private $LargeJets to over-seas "save the planet" conferences. Once they have that answer, they can coach their daughter to babble their opinion.

        1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

          > Once they have that answer, they can coach their daughter to babble their opinion.

          That's an outrageous accusation. Her parents don't coach her. They don't let her fly in any class.

        2. Jan 0 Silver badge

          Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

          Paul Ehrlich answered this in the 1970s when he said something like: "Why travel steerage when you know that you're on the Titanic?". However, Greta's way is much better.

      4. ICL1900-G3

        Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

        You know, Greta isn't just doing what she does for her own sake, there is a bit of a problem with the climate, as will become apparent if we don't change our ways.

    2. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

      Oooh yes. Air travel is annoying, by itself, the whole sitting-in-a-tin-can-thing. Admittedly, the few times I got upgraded on a transatlantic flight were pretty ok - still not a great experience in total, it was mostly "less painful / annoying".

      The biggest hassle is first going to the airport, they are outside the city (mostly, except for London City, which is a rather cute little airfield), then getting inside the building, maybe dropping off luggage (ok, frequent travelers either travel without checked luggage or can drop it off at 1st class), then queuing for the security theatre, the security theatre itself, then having to pass through the shopping mall that all airports seem to be attached to, then hanging around in the lounge (trying to get some work done, while some business-class-entitled-feeling git yaps on his phone (the ladies seem a tad more considerate than the gents) top of his lungs, entertaining all of us, then stumbling along to the gate, be there on time-ish (be one of the last to arrive, so you don't have to queue as much), queue to pass through the gate, queue on the gangway, queue some more, because some inconsiderate... person... brought in a suitcase that does not fit anywhere (c'mon, if it does not fit under your seat it is not a carry-on-sized item), and they are holding up the traffic and...

      I don't miss flying. I miss spending time at other interesting places though.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

        I mostly feel the same. Sitting in a tin can for a few hours is slightly boring (but a Kindle and music player sort that for the most part). But queuing and standing/sitting around in the airport is stressful. Reducing the flight time is tackling the wrong problem for me.

        1. AK565

          Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

          Agreed. At one ppoint I was doing a lot of NYC <-> W. Palm/Ft Lauderdale. The actual flight was the shortest and least stressfull leg of the trip.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You are doing it wrong

        it's all a matter of perspective and attitude . Travelled a lot pre-Covid, long haul, economy class on my employers dime . Now you can choose to be annoyed at the queue to check in, security, the shopping mall etc. Or you can choose to read a book/listen to a podcast while you drift through to the lounge. Or ammuse yourself looking at cameras and laptops you will never buy in Dixons Then assuming the sun's over the yardarm have a leisurely pint in the faux olde worlde pub. Drift onto the plane when called. Noise cancelling headphones - selection of films your other half wouldn't want to watch with you, someone brings you a beer and a glass of wine. Have a sleep. Wake up and read a bit. Arrive somewhere exotic. Depending on the timezone hit the pool, or go to sleep, or dive into an exciting meeting. Don't forget to tell all your colleagues how totally miserable the experience was though.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: You are doing it wrong

          Unless you are 6’3 and there is nowhere to put your knees.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You are doing it wrong

            Yes - not a game you want to play if you are too tall. But for average sized peoples, with a little care to choose on 'cheapest with acceptable seat pitch' its not the worst day in the office I have to endure.

          2. AK565

            Re: You are doing it wrong

            One needn't be 6'3" to have that problem. 6'0" is quite sufficient.

        2. jake Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: You are doing it wrong

          "assuming the sun's over the yardarm"

          The way I see it, all commercial airports worldwide are in the same timezone. The sun is over the yardarm somewhere on this dampish rock, so pints all around!

      3. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

        "(be one of the last to arrive, so you don't have to queue as much)"

        Turns out that, sometimes, if you do that you'll find that the flight is overbooked and you don't have a seat any more.

        1. PerlyKing Silver badge

          Re: No seat due to overbooked flight

          It's been a while since I flew anywhere, but surely the airlines are still obliged to honour your ticket on a later flight? Inconvenient certainly but not always the end of the world.

          Many years ago I was flying home on an overbooked flight and they were offering an overnight stay, next day flight plus cash for people to stay behind. It wasn't convenient for me at the time but it didn't seem like a bad deal.

          Around the same era BA had an offer on their London <-> Edinburgh flights that if your flight turned out to be overbooked they'd lay on a plane just for you. Of course, that is quite expensive. A friend of mine ended up in that situation and settled for £500 cash and a later flight.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Thank god for single guys

            I spent 9 months working in Germany commuting each week. arriving on-time for my Friday night flight we were told that the flight was severely overbooked ad that they needed to lose 8 passengers. The next available flight would be the Saturday afternoon meaning my short weekend at home would have been virtually none existent. Most of the passengers were in the same position. Desperate to get home to see the wife and kids for the already short weekend. I would normally get home about 9 pm Friday and would need to leave for the airport at 5 am on Monday.

            Thankfully there were enough single guys who could be tempted by a night out in Mönchengladbach, with all the delights of any garrison town that us old married blokes were spared.

        2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

          I used to & like to be at the airport (Parked up & in the terminal building) the full three hours before departure*.

          These days web check in is so much easier & I am a little more relaxed about getting there (As daughter found out when she wasn't able to do so), but I still like to arrive in that 2 - 3 hour window, I find the time flies (Sorry - Not sorry) doing the shopping, security checks, finally eating & drinking (See Icon) at popular prices** in the departure lounge.

          * It saved my bacon once when discovering I had the Ex-Mrs Oncoming Scorn's passport*** in my hand & was able to get the right one couriered to me in time for the flight (Fathers death - Family were following in a weeks time).

          ** Extortionate - That's why they are popular with the business's concerned.

          *** It also taught me if she'd had access to them when I put mine out & readied for my single flights to double check before leaving the house.

          1. MCMLXV

            Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

            Are you alright? (That wasn't my downvote, btw.)

      4. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

        "queue to pass through the gate, queue on the gangway, queue some more"

        Uh, isn't that basically the British national passtime? I've encountered people queuing in the high street with no idea why they were queuing, just other people were so they joined in. [Fleet, by the chemist, end of March 2002 - if you know, let me know, I had to go to work...]

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

          In Blighty, even trees in the so-called "forests" queue up ... it's the British Way.

      5. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

        For me the worst part of flying isn't the airport - its the hours of abject terror from when the thing starts moving on the runway until it's come to a complete stop.

        I find whisky helps.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

          My sister says she quite likes flying. It's the takeoffs and landings that terrify her.

          She prefers gin'n'tonic.

        2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

          Whisky helps in most situations. Glug!

          Although I'm with jake's sister, and think a G&T is a better drink for flying. Whisky's for after a nice dinner, and there's fat chance of that on a plane.

          I don't get the terror, it's about the safest mode of transport possible. But boy are planes a miserable experience. Airports on business are mostly fine, as mostly my business flights have been early in the morning. The place is empty and you can get an over-priced coffee and cake, if you need it. A book, the paper or a podcast deals with the waiting around.

          But once on the plane, the air's so dry that I can't read for more than about an hour without my eyes becoming uncomfortable. My legs are too long for the space available, and my shoulders a bit too broad for comfort on some of the seats. And it's impossible to get into any kind of comfortable sleeping (or even dozing) position. Oh and all the uppy-downy stuff plays havoc with my poor sinuses, such that if I have to do two flights in a day I have a headache for the next day.

          If only we could go by Zeppelin, at lower altitudes.

          1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

            > my shoulders a bit too broad for comfort on some of the seats.

            Standard aeroplane seats are now 17" wide, which, if you are carrying adults is a bit silly.

    3. Imhotep

      Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

      I used to have to travel from St Louis to a number of locations. Flying has become so aggravating that I opted to drive for the Chicago, Nashville and Atlanta trips.

      When you factored in time spent getting to and from the airport, picking up luggage, renting a car and driving to the actual location - I actually ended up trading a large amount of aggravation for a small amount of time.

    4. rg287

      Re: Can it reduce the time spent at airports

      Like Concorde, I imagine a service commanding ticket prices of $5500 will have it's own check-in and security. Arrive 15 minutes before departure (possibly by helicopter), collect martini and away you go.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    October 7th as the day

    Red Dawn...

  10. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Suck up that lovely Virgin hype...

    I assume this will be "supersonic" in the same way that Virgin Galactic isn't space travel?

  11. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Boom Supersonic

    Not quite what Sir Humphrey meant with "Getting rid of the difficult bit in the title".

  12. Chris the bean counter Bronze badge

    Can an electric powered plane fly supersonically ?

    Assuming at some point in future a suitable power storage becomes available (maybe green ammonia+fuel cells)

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Can an electric powered plane fly supersonically ?

      If there was an electric way of chucking enough hot gas out behind to achieve thrust by Newton’s third law. Because airscrew type propellors or fans won’t work in a supersonic airflow. The air in Concorde’s Olympus engines had to be shocked down to subsonic before it could be used.

      1. david bates

        Re: Can an electric powered plane fly supersonically ?

        You can do it with an unshielded nuclear reactor, which is nearly electric.

  13. Mike Richards

    It's Branson

    So I'm setting my expectations to [LOW].

    I fully expect to see a model plane and a whooshy logo (whalesong optional) - actual hardware and entry into service TBD.

  14. not.known@this.address Silver badge

    Typical Branson

    If the 1960s technology of Concorde was really that bad, and the new carbon-fibre, fly-by-wire, superwhizzojet is so advanced, how come it's got less range?

    Concorde was killed off because the French gave Boeing the excuse they needed to pressure the US Government into banning it by being too cheap to fit the tank spall liners that would have saved the lives lost in the one and only major accident involving a Concorde - with the major route closed, the service became unviable.

    If people could have half the travel time for the same ticket price, how many people would choose to waste the extra time stuck in a pressurised tube miles above the Earth?

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Typical Branson - Step Forward Mr Musk

      "If people could have half the travel time for the same ticket price, how many people would choose to waste the extra time stuck in a pressurised tube miles above the Earth?"

      When they could do it in a pressurised tube miles below or in a pipe over the Earth instead.

      Icon - PH knows all about pressure, pipes & tubes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Typical Branson

      "Concorde was killed off because the French gave Boeing the excuse"

      Airbus cut the life of Concorde short by not adding spall liners, but it had a good innings, all things considered. Given the age of the aircraft, and the small number built, there was probably a looming problem with bespoke spare parts getting more expensive, along with the fatigue life of the airframe that limits the life of every "modern" aircraft. Don't forget a lot of the Concorde designers would have retired by the time of the Paris crash.

      Concorde was mainly being used for short tourist flights by then, pay a few hundred pounds and you can say you've flown supersonic, and was mainly kept flying as a flying advertising board for BA. There wasn't actually much incentive for Airbus to do the necessary engineering and associated regulatory paperwork, given the small number of aircraft flying, unless BA was willing to pay for the work. It's not as if most people saw Concorde and thought of Airbus, because most people didn't/don't know anything about type certificates and who held the type certificate for Concorde.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Typical Branson

      Actually, there was a lot of stuff around Concorde safety that should have prevented it becoming commercial. I know someone (hence the Anon) who was involved in some of the crash testing and ditching tests and the scenarios were written in very unrepresentative wording. For one of the ditch tests it was defined the fuel tanks were empty but that the engines were at full chat - co-incidently the only one where it did not break it's back or convert immediately into a submarine.

  15. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Hardly any conventional planes are flying right now"

    Well I don't know about that. When I take a look at FlightRadar's activity map, there seems to be a lot of planes in the air.

    Of course, I don't have the map of this time last year to compare, so . . .

    1. DS999

      Re: "Hardly any conventional planes are flying right now"

      Don't know about the rest of the world, but in the US at least airlines have to fly a certain number of lights per day to maintain their contracts with airports. There were a lot of planes flying empty in the US just to meet those targets during the height of the pandemic.

      Yes, this is unforgivably stupid, and a proper president would have done something to put a stop to this wasteful activity. But since he been actively standing in the way of actions that could have got the pandemic under control like in most of the EU a bit of wasted fuel and extra CO2 is well down the list of his failings.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: "Hardly any conventional planes are flying right now"

      I use a FlightRadar often and the number of flights was much lower during the height of March April May and is now picking up but still much less busy than this time last year. I also live under a busy airport approach and life is much quieter right now. I enjoy watching the air traffic so I actually miss the planes. I don’t mind the noise at all.

    3. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: "Hardly any conventional planes are flying right now"

      I realise I'm very late to the party but...

      ...a lot of the aircraft I see in Europe are private or freighters, and it's easier to spot the military flights now that the map isn't flooded with commercial flights.

      FR24 has been keeping tabs on the situation, here is July's take on the matter and there are links to other articles from this page.

      M.

  16. JDX Gold badge

    re:so when do you think there’ll be a market?

    2023 which is neatly when they promise it

  17. Christoph

    How much climate-wrecking CO2 will this blast out so that rich people can get across the Atlantic a little bit quicker?

    We have to urgently cut emissions, not spend all our ingenuity on finding new ways to increase them.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      No, we really don't.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This has been going on since before the 1970s

      "We have to urgently cut emissions, not spend all our ingenuity on finding new ways to increase them."

      I was around then, and I'm still here now.

      And guess what? So are the low-lying islands and land masses that the climate change "experts" predicted would be under water by the New Millenium… then 2010, 2015, 2020, 2035, 2050... They said we would be drowning as sea levels rose hundreds of meters if we didn't stop polluting and yet here we are over 50 YEARS later and the water has risen by under 5cm - and that is a questionable rise since we can now measure things like sea depths far more accurately but we've also found that many of our old estimates were significantly different from reality - a bit like the climate change models the "experts" use.

      Anon because it doesn't matter what sort of proof a "denier" gives (look out the window, FFS! is the sea lapping at your door?) you get a stream of abuse and threats from the sheeple who blindly follow every word the "experts" say.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: This has been going on since before the 1970s

        ::shrugs:: Use your handle. Thumbs here on ElReg don't mean anything ... all they can do is scare people into submission if those people allow it. Don't be one of those people.

        I gave you a thumbs up ... You talk sense instead of parroting others.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This has been going on since before the 1970s

        Models are good. No not those ones. These other ones that prove what *I* want to say.

  18. JohnG Silver badge

    Looking at Planefinder recently, I reckon the people that might fly on a new supersonic transatlantic jet would rather pootle to and fro in a smaller and slower private jet, to avoid mixing with other potentially infectious passengers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If Covid sticks around in the 'omg we will all die if we get within a metre of another human being' through 2023 (plus the Branson 'reality' time increment - so 2033) then I predict the collapse of society as we know it, and no one will fly anything. If on the other hand we get herd immunity/cures/vaccines learn to live with it then by 2023 people will have forgotten it ever happened and be merrily jetting off to exotic places. Humans have attention spans and memories slightly less evolved than goldfish.

  19. Sirius Lee

    Your question...

    "..so when do you think there’ll be a market for expensive and unproven new hardware?" Fair enough but Tesla, SpaceX? I think the question says more about the limitations of the person asking than will be revealed in any answer. And any answer is un likely to satisfy anyone who will ask such a question unless it identifies bums on seats ready to take (and pay for) a trip next week. Hopefully other participants will ask more expansive questions.

  20. hoola Bronze badge

    Concorde

    When it was conceived and did fly Concorde was an absolute marvel of the technology and engineering skill of the time. One of the things that stands out and as far as I know has not yet been equalled was its ability to fly at Mach2, with no reheat for the the hop over the Atlantic. There was nothing that could touch it. Sure, some military jets could go faster, climb faster blah blah, but they could only do it for a few minutes before they became, at best a very expensive glider or at worst an aluminium brick.

    I cannot really see where Branson is going with this. I suppose there is the possibility that general cheap air travel reduces and the game moves into luxury, either as mid-sized planes with not many people or small and fast.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Concorde

      AFAIK only one of the hotter EE Lightnings was able to catch it. So not even all Lightnings just one of the better ones.

      Had a look same Lightning intercepted a U2 and has reached 88,000 feet

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020