Reply to post: Changing goal posts

It's the white heat of the tech revolution, again!

graeme leggett

Changing goal posts

The "White Heat of technology" should have been good for one British area - aircraft. But that didn't turn out well due to other factors.

Britain had a host of military aircraft under development but the realization that guided weapons (both short range anti-aircraft, and long range intercontinental) put the kybosh on most of them. While probably good that the projects were dropped before they became a burden, they had already soaked up lots of the governments development cash. And then there was the lack of subsequent successor projects. Result, all those individual - in theory competing - aircraft companies ended up as first a few then one company squashing that entrepreneurial spirit?

And on the civil front, Britain had the edge with the jet. You might think a quick trip to Malaga in a Ryanair bus is "a bit noisy and why can't they make it quieter", but pre-jet all planes (to put it simply) vibrated to add to the propwash battering the hull. Your surprisingly pricey bottle of water would have pirouetted off the edge of your fold-down tray before you crossed the Channel. Skipping past the dH Comet, Concorde promised swift journey across the Pond. So swift you would put up with the claustrophobic cabin dimensions (I digress but in 1945, it was thought that for Atlantic travel, the passenger would require heroic amounts of cabin space, and room to perambulate, so they could endure the long hours in the air - Bristol Brabazon) . In practice, the long-haul winner was the 747, just enough room that the passengers would not feel cramped, while just fast enough that the journey in that space was not an endurance. For other civil aircraft with the target market being the state airline - foreign sales a bonus, solely British civil aircraft development tapered off.

So if a possible Labour government hands out the investment cash, but then has to choke it off because they decided they backed the wrong horses, or set them the wrong targets, could we see similar?

[Obviously the whole British aircraft scene, the interplay between state development targets, politicians of each hue, engine companies and airframe companies is rather more complex than my outline above. In fact, I've probably omitted something that actually invalidates my theme.]

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