I wish them well
But I history does not bode well for their success.
Japan has a assembled a supergroup of aviation, industrial, and space organisations to build a supersonic passenger jet. The new organisation, Japan Supersonic Research (JSR), quietly signed itself into existence on March 31st. Yesterday, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced that it is a member, alongside …
Indeed - have United really committed to buy? Or have they taken options to buy from Boom? Back when the Beatles were still together the top ten airlines had options on Concorde, by the time the Sex Pistols were in the charts they had none (Air France and BA only taking them because they were told to).
"Yes, the US has a huge "not invented here" chip on its shoulder. "
What? You can hardly find anything in a US shop that doesn't say "Made in China" on it and people flock to Walmart and other retailers to buy these "bargains".
Concorde was loud, a big polluter and was going to be very difficult to integrate into US air routes. Maybe it would have been usable from the west coast to Hawaii, but it didn't have the legs to make it to Japan in one go. Luggage was limited with no overhead bins and little room for cargo which many passenger airlines take on to add profit to flights. This is a reason they now charge for baggage.
The richer rich got their own planes.
Having to share one with others pegs you as a mere millionaire at best. The kind of prole that has to walk down and get in line to have their passport checked, as opposed to just waiting in your plane's lounge for the officers to come to you.
"Or in the case of a couple of them, their own rockets which they may soon to able to use for point-to-point transport."
P2P rocket transportation has never made any sense and never will. It's very complex and very inefficient. Paradoxically, it's also very slow. The rocket part of the trip has the potential to be fast, but everything else to get to lift off is not. Weather on either end has to be perfect since you can't just divert to Birmingham if Heathrow is fogged in with a rocket.
If you can afford the price of rocket travel, you could afford your own 757 or A320 and travel in ultra-class luxury. The merely super rich have to make do with a Gulfstream and needing to duck inside. The biggest benefit of those is the large number of airports available to them. They don't need to take off and land 25 miles off-shore. The municipal airport just down the road from me has a runway long enough and it's not a very big city. Pretty dinky, actually. They also have one of the best prices in the area for Jet-A fuel (self-serve).
no, I'm not talking tens of thousands of super-rich who can afford their own plane (and do, even if they can't really, because that's what marks their status), I'm talking about hundreds of thousands of those who are not quite there on the top shelf, but way above the average business / 1st class seat user. And their feeling of self-importance tells them they need to travel that much faster, because they can afford it. No, they don't own a fleet of several yachts, or 15 supercars, but to show they're not 'just upper class', in terms of income, they want this extra layer to separate them from the plebs (including mere 1st class execs). This market's a-booming.
>either use the private jet and take 8 hours or for a fraction of the cost take the Boom and be there in half the time.
Or use a slow-subsonic private jet, leave from a small airport exactly when you want, arrive near your destination and return when you want.
Or travel for an hour to major airport, arrive 3 hours before departure to do security, travel supersonically, spend 1 hour getting from the airport to your destination. Have a choice of 1-2 flights/day
It probably needs to be a trans-pacific trip to be worth the flight-time saving.
There might be a small billionaire market for a supersonic trans-pacific capable business jet.
"Or travel for an hour to major airport, arrive 3 hours before departure to do security, travel supersonically, spend 1 hour getting from the airport to your destination. Have a choice of 1-2 flights/day"
Flying taxis for those who can afford to be taken direct to the Premium First Class roof landing pad, lift straight down into the Supersonic Lounge, where all the formalities will be expedited in great comfort.
Yes but that still only works for long trips.
There will still only be one flight/day, limited by market size, take-off/landing limits and timezone.
So if I still have to spend 2days on a trip to China it's not clear that waiting in the hotel for tomorrow's 5hour flight is better than having a choice of hourly departures on a 8hour flight sleeping in a business class seat.
A supersonic business jet, where it is on your timetable, assuming it doesn't need a NASA style runway that could turn a trip to China into a single day, or visit 10 places in Asia in a 3day trip - I could see a small market for.
"no, I'm not talking tens of thousands of super-rich who can afford their own plane (and do, even if they can't really, because that's what marks their status), "
You can join a time-share where you pre-pay for a minimum amount of airtime per year and can whistle up a private jet when you need one rather than owning your own. The fancier and longer range jets costing more credits than a smaller, shorter range class. If I were to win the lottery, that's the sort of thing I'd subscribe to. One huge benefit is that you often fly into smaller "executive" airports that can be much closer to your ultimate destination. While you wait to board, the flight centers often have free beverages and snacks for you including freshly made cookies depending on the facility. You can also order in and have a very nice meal.
> One huge benefit is that you often fly into smaller "executive" airports that can be much closer to your ultimate destination. While you wait to board, the flight centers often have free beverages and snacks for you including freshly made cookies depending on the facility. You can also order in and have a very nice meal.
Other benefits of these smaller airports, no security queues. Not to mention, you don't have to be there on time because, well, the plane will wait for you, so you can turn up 30 minutes late if your massage hasn't finished yet. The only chedule the airplane has to keep is your schedule, at least while it is still within your share of the time-share. Oh, and possibly airport curfews, if you dealy your flight too long it may not be allowed to land at the destination airport (or even takeoff) if you delayed it outside curfews.
I'm sorry, but we ultra-rich do not BUY maize; we GROW it! On my 10,000 acre ranch, I can produce all the kerosene I need for my ultrasonic jet. Of course my cars and trucks are all battery-powered. I am very carbon-neutral.
And the government gives me all sorts of monetary credits for being so "green".
Have you paid your taxes yet? I'm counting on plebes like you!
Probably pointless me replying this late, but let me point out that biofuel is not the same thing as synthetic fuel. Carbon neutral synthetic fuel takes its carbon from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not from plants, and thus achieves carbon neutrality directly without compromising agricultural land and driving up the cost of food. However currently it is very expensive to produce.
"If it's for an expensive executive service, then it's an ideal candidate for expensive synthetic fuel, so it doesn't have to have a big carbon footprint."
Synthetic fuels to date have had a huge carbon footprint. Ethanol is massively energy negative. It's only good at creating jobs. If I were on a supersonic jet, I'd feel much more comfortable if the fuel was consistent. There's no telling how different blends might perform and how they could react with each other in fuel tanks. Aviation has such a diverse set of requirements for fuel that it's going to be a long time before there is a good substitute for kerosene. The low hanging fruit is passenger cars diminishing towards HGV's and farm machinery.
My grandparents flew on Concorde once, in the very early 1990's. They did it for a milestone wedding anniversary as a treat. What baffles me is that they were born in a time when it wasn't even possible for people to fly to destinations, they then went through the 1970s(?) period where there was an huge increase in 747's and the like to get to destinations around the world. They then flew on Concorde. That was taken out of service just over 10 years after they flew on it... Now it's not possible to travel from London to Canada (that was the trip they did) in the time they did.
It seems to me like we've really taken a backwards step. I've watched the programmes about how Concorde was a financial loss, but a lot of that seems to be due to political shenanigans and terrible project management as opposed to the actual technology.
Everyone moans about budget airlines letting the great unwashed go to places for £20 after spending more than that on booze in Wetherspoons at the airport. There are about 2 million millionaires in the UK alone as of today. What's the missing piece here? Surely there is a market for this?
"I've watched the programmes about how Concorde was a financial loss, but a lot of that seems to be due to political shenanigans and terrible project management as opposed to the actual technology."
People seem to forget just how extremely complex Concorde was for it's time. The amount of bespoke electronics required to keep it flying (from flight controls to engine intake geometry computers) is astounding. One of the reasons Concorde was getting so expensive was the massive amount of ageing electronics aboard. In a more commercially viable craft with a larger fleet they'd have done a full avionics and electronics overhaul, replacing all those modules with more modern integrated circuits and computers (Probably saving a few hundred kilogram in the process) but by the time the crash happened most people with the required expertise and knowledge had moved on to other jobs, retired or became permanently unavailable. At that point replacement of many components would basically have entailed a full "from scratch" design with matching certification requirements. That just wasn't going to happen.
Politics certainly also played a role, but there was a lot involved in keeping Conc flying, even before the crash that sealed her fate. After that it was basically a done deal.
If you have a spare few months I'd highly recommend digging through the thread on Concorde over at PPRuNe. Possibly the most complete repository of knowledge on everyday operation around Concorde, some the details in her designs and what choices where behind them, the functions of her computers and electronics modules, etc. Requires a bit of digging to find the gold, but there is so much gold there.
Concorde certainly had a lot of what was then very high tech electronics.
Totally primitive by today's standards of course, but strangely enough that gave it far better longevity than anything modern. So long as someone somewhere is making discrete transistors and passive components of almost any specification, the electronics could be repaired. It's far harder to keep modern electronics in service.
"So long as someone somewhere is making discrete transistors and passive components of almost any specification, the electronics could be repaired. "
Maybe. A big issue with the Space Shuttle was the core memory. Little wound magnetic cores fashioned by highly skilled ladies. Gray-haired old ladies by the time the shuttles were retired. The enormous amount of red tape it would have taken to update to newer solid state RAM wasn't worth the cost given the age of the program.
I've been soldering bits together for a long time (not admitting to any number). The 555 timer IC may live on forever, but many IC's and other components that I learned with are long gone from the catalogs. When a friend of mine died his father liquidated his shop rather cruelly and didn't understand that those tubes of IC's were vintage chips with a combined value of over $40,000. I tried to get a hold of him after my friend died, but he didn't want to talk with any of his friends. I know my friend had a fair bit of cash tucked about inside VCR's "in for repair" and a stash of precious metals cast as washers to look innocuous. All of it got binned. I expect lots of vintage electronics meet the same fate.
"but by the time the crash happened most people with the required expertise and knowledge had moved on to other jobs, retired or became permanently unavailable."
To make another suite of bespoke flight controls with a run of 30 pieces would be massively expensive. The required qualification testing would be millions of credits. A lot of standardization has taken place on passenger jets since Concorde. With any mature industry, there is a tendency towards sameness since engineers move about and competitors nick good ideas from each other. A supersonic aircraft with variable physical geometries depending on flight segments is going to be custom and low quantity. Militaries do this all of the time, but that's because mankind is more keen on killing efficiently rather than doing business with each other.
"Maybe traveling at this speed made no sense in the first place"
It depends where you're travelling to and from. If you were going from the UK for a beach holiday in Spain then no, it wouldn't make any sense. But if you wanted to go half way around the world being able to do it in, for example, 3 hours instead of 9 definitely makes sense. When you factor on travel times at the start and end of the journey especially, cutting down that flight time really is advantageous because you're less weary from travelling for so long.
The only thing I can see being different now to say in the 1980 and 1990's is business customers where you would essentially have to go to another country to "see" somebody whereas now you can just get on Zoom.
> The only thing I can see being different now to say in the 1980 and 1990's is business customers where you would essentially have to go to another country to "see" somebody whereas now you can just get on Zoom.
This... and digital photography.
In the late-80s I met a lovely woman who worked in the fashion industry. Fairly regularly she would be commissioned to fly Concorde from London to New York and back on the same day to attend a fashion show and then prepare drawings of the latest fashions. She'd sketch at the show and flesh them out on the return flight. These drawings would then be used by whichever chain it was that had commissioned her to produce UK high-street versions, trying to steal a march on their rivals.
One (non-Concorde) story of hers I particularly remember was her handing in a trouser suit to be dry-cleaned at a 2hr dry-cleaner in Hong Kong only to find when she got it back that it had been taken apart, a pattern made, sewn back together and dry cleaned all within the 2 hour window! :-)
She said it had been done extremely well as well - anyone not in the industry wouldn't have noticed.
" Fairly regularly she would be commissioned to fly Concorde from London to New York and back on the same day to attend a fashion show and then prepare drawings of the latest fashions. She'd sketch at the show and flesh them out on the return flight."
And now she could remain in NY, do those sketches and send them back to the head office while doing more shopping in the downtown boutiques to see what else might be trending. I had a friend that was the designer for a surfware brand in the US. Each year she'd be sent to tour Europe for inspiration. Not only would she be shopping the high streets, she'd also be on the beaches and trendy night spots to see what people were buying. The funny thing was that she was more into museums and galleries than night clubs and lying on sand.
"The only thing I can see being different now to say in the 1980 and 1990's is business customers where you would essentially have to go to another country to "see" somebody whereas now you can just get on Zoom."
There's still a place for face to face meetings, followed by drinks and maybe a restaurant, ie the social side of cementing the deal and the relationship that can't really be done via Zoom-alikes. But Zoom-alikes really ought to massively reduce the need for business air travel. But then there's "status" to consider. Senior managers and directors do like to demonstrate their positions to the lower-downs or play up to clients.
A few years ago, I drove up to Dundee and back in a day to do a job for a client. A tiring and uncomfortable trip that I didn't enjoy That same day, the top C-Levels did a "round Britain tour" by plane of all our offices and plastered it all over the intraweb and company-wode emails.
"The only thing I can see being different now to say in the 1980 and 1990's is business customers where you would essentially have to go to another country to "see" somebody whereas now you can just get on Zoom."
Company travel departments are also looking to move people about with an eye on price more than minimizing travel time. Depending on your position, you may get to go in business rather than cattle class with the unwashed and their pets/farm animals. A supersonic flight would only be for the most senior execs on their way to buy another company or perhaps sell out the one they're managing.
Communications have advanced a long way since Concorde. Virtually sharing a white board isn't a big thing anymore and documents are more often electronic than printed. Trade shows and conferences, at least for me, lose too much in the virtual world. Cruising around DefCon with way too many Red Bulls on board is not going to be replicated through a Discord server.
Perhaps that "millionaires' are counted by the value of their property? Our house, 20-year-old built, was under... I don't remember, I think around 80K. Now, we're third owners and it's well over 400K. I sure will be a millionaire, but I already can't afford about 99% of peak fares in the cattle-truck class.
It's crazy but a million quid isn't THAT much money any more. If you put a million in cash in a standard bank account you'd get about £1k a year in interest. If you invest you might get 5% but you need to pay tax on that.
A couple of million on paper doesn't make you rich anymore.
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If it's easy, instant access savings, it'd be more like £5000. If you go for a savings account with 60-90 days notice of withdrawals, you would get more like £10,000 per year. Still not great, but a quite a bit more than you suggest. And unless you are tax exempt or below the annual taxable income threshold, savings account interest is taxed at source.
"If you put a million in cash in a standard bank account you'd get about £1k a year in interest. If you invest you might get 5% but you need to pay tax on that.'
It's not worth risking that money in a bank. Better to spend some of it strategically. If you have a mortgage or a car loan, you get a better return paying them off quickly rather than over a long time with money in a retirement account earning less than half of the interest you are paying out. Buying higher quality goods that should last much longer and be worth repairing rather than cheap stuff that breaks in 90 days.
" Now it's not possible to travel from London to Canada (that was the trip they did) in the time they did."
One can't even travel by ship across the Atlantic Ocean except for a few dates per year. Cruise ships are just giant floating Las Vegas hotels that are loaded with attractions to drive a crowbar into people's wallets. They aren't meant for traveling from A to B.
I remember Robert Smith of The Cure coming over to the US for a tour by boat as he didn't like flying.
There are some cargo ships that sell passage, but they are the same price as a cruise ship and you better speak a few languages if want to talk with somebody on the crew. If the ship gets delayed and has to sit at anchor, getting ashore can be a chore and getting through customs is a PIA. If you are Micheal Palin and have a team of fixers, it can be done.
"If you are in the money league that you might be able to charter a Cessna Citation to get around Europe, a Concorde cabin is cavernous by comparison."
The advantage is there is no faffing about. You get on the plane when it's ready to go, the door is sealed up and you taxi out to the runway. Both airports are going to be as close as possible to both A and B rather than the one airport in the country where the supersonic plane operates.
A Citation CJ4 would need to stop in Iceland for fuel on a trip from London to NY. There is a minimum distance where a jet makes sense. A Pilatus or TBM turboprop can be a better choice for shorter trips with about the same travel time and far less cost/mile(km). A turboprop aircraft has a few more airport and time of day options over a jet.
Supersonic passenger jets are doomed to fail unless sonic boom issues are resolved. A plane that can only fly supersonic over the ocean will not reduce practical travel times for most routes.
There's London or Paris to New York like the Concorde, but what else? When you're going three hours over land from, say, Frankfurt to Chicago no faster than a regular aircraft, then the advantage of saving two hours over the Atlantic does not make that much of a difference. Never mind the hours spent in lines for boarding and immigration, or stuck in the airport connecting.
No need to pay premium to save 2 hours on an 18 hour travel. Boom et al claim that tickets will be no more expensive than with a regular flight, which is obviously silly nonsense when you have a plane that is half the size and consumes a lot more fuel (not that they are willing to tell you *how* much).
Supersonic private jets might fill a niche for the super super rich, though. "Mine's faster than your puny Gulfstream!"
"I imagine, seeing it's the Japanese developing this, they have Tokyo–LA and Tokyo–Sydney in mind."
Concorde didn't have the range to do a LA to Tokyo run. They'd have to stop for fuel in Hawaii. The same goes for crossing the equator to Oz. LA to Sydney would be nearly double the max range. Perth to J'burg is a few miles further than the maximum range. It's never a good thing to get close to draining the tanks on a flight.
Any new SST will need to have more range to open up more routes that currently have really long flight times. Having to stop for fuel would eat up a lot of time. There is also the need for dry land to make those fuel stops.
> A plane that can only fly supersonic over the ocean will not reduce practical travel times for most routes.
> There's London or Paris to New York like the Concorde, but what else?
How about Vancouver/Seattle/San Francisco/Los Angeles/Santiago/Honolulu to Tokyo/Seoul/Shanghai/Beijing/Hong Kong/Taipei/Bangkok/Singapore/Manila/Jakarta/Sydney/Melbourne/Auckland/Dubai?
The Atlantic isn't the only Ocean.
That is true. I guess I unconsciously excluded routes over the Pacific because of what I expect to be limited range. The Concorde was 50% fuel at take-off and yet was close to maximum range on its Atlantic routes. Wikipedia says about the Boom: "With 4,500 nmi of range, transpacific flights would require a refueling stop," again biting into the small margin that they have if you have to detour and lose an hour for the refueling stop.
"and lose an hour for the refueling stop.'
It would be more than an hour. They'd have to descend from ~50,000' or so while slowing down, get in the pattern for the airport and then spend time climbing back out to continue the trip. It might also be 10 minutes from the runway to the jetway adding 20 minutes in transit on the ground. If they were stopping in Hawaii, I'm sure there would be some passenger exchange there along with bags and that takes time.
The first cars were not better than horse drawn carriages.
The first planes were not better than steam trains or cars.
But now we have great planes and cars.
Without the dreams of the people working to improve those things, we wouldn't have them.
It is great to see there are people trying to improve commercial aviation beyond the capabilities offered by a Boeing 707 released in 1958.
Depends on your definition of 'beyond'
We could have developed 200mph steam trains on special super-straight TGV style tracks.
But arguably our local automated light rail system is better - in transporting more people into the city center at lower cost with less disruption
It may be touting green fuel, but I don't see how it avoids spewing out nitrogen oxides into the stratosphere. The engines have to run hot with reheat to do their job.
Concorde was also just a little bit noisy at take off, even by the standards of 707s. Modern aircraft are much quieter than in the 70s. There is no getting around that you cannot make a supersonic wing work efficiently at 200 kts.
Depends on the engine and its intake.
Concorde didn't need afterburner to sustain Mach2, but did need it to get there. The SR71 did need AB to sustain supersonic speed, and in fact if heavy it could not even get supersonic in level flight; it needed a shallow dive to get there. Both depended entirely on variable inlet geometry to be efficient at high Mach numbers, gaining in efficiency as speed increased, both being thermally limited rather than power limited, both being hopeless gas guzzlers subsonic.
And, really, nothing has changed. No one is likely to beat the SR71 inlet efficiency because it was the ideal design. And the compressor design in such an engine is still a horrible compromise.
"And, really, nothing has changed. No one is likely to beat the SR71 inlet efficiency because it was the ideal design. And the compressor design in such an engine is still a horrible compromise."
It'll be interesting to see what comes out of the R&D at Reaction Engines, apart from their primary aim.
"Well at least Japanese will have a engine....BOOM doesn't even have an engine yet so I can't see it getting very far!"
I'd want to start the design around the powerplant for something like this. There isn't going to be more than one option most likely. That means the OML (outer mold line) needs to takes its lead from the required configuration of the engine. The marketing department can start choosing the color scheme, but wasting money on airframe design will lead to a big redo. I know another project where there was lots of hand waving about the engine. They just assumed that the engineers would be able to work out the issues. They couldn't. The smaller basis for what they want to do didn't scale and the airframe is what it is at this point.