Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Transportation Businesses News Technology Science

Boom Aerospace Company Wants To Bring Back Supersonic Civilian Travel (bloomberg.com) 139

pacopico writes: A startup out of Denver called Boom Technology has just come out of stealth mode [by] talking-up their supersonic jet. It would carry 40 passengers and travel at Mach 2.2. The company claims that it's about 30 percent more fuel-efficient than the Concorde. Based on this, it could get its prices down to the equivalent of a business class seat on long-haul flights. At Mach 2.2, a trip from New York to London would take 3.4 hours. Boom is meant to start test flights next year out of John Denver's old hangar.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Boom Aerospace Company Wants To Bring Back Supersonic Civilian Travel

Comments Filter:
  • Would you really want to fly on an airplane built by "Boom" Aerospace?

    That's even worse than Boeing (bo-ing!)

    • Seems a bad idea to name the company after the sonic boom that the aircraft produces, which will cause numerous noise complaints and eventually get the plane banned, doesn't it?
    • by skaag ( 206358 )

      This. I was just thinking this. What a HORRIBLE name!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They'll use Randy Newman for the jingle:
        Boom goes London and boom Paree
        More room for you and more room for me

    • "Boom" Aerospace?

      They might as well go all the way and change the name to CRASH, which in the case of explosions comes after Boom. Think of the slogan: "Fly with CRASH."

      Reminds me of Malwarebytes software [malwarebytes.org] which is supposed to remove malware, not be what its name implies.

  • They need a new name. I get it, sonic boom. But that word has some brand recognition associated with it already.

    • Explodeecrashcrash was already taken (ValuJet have been sitting on that trademark since the 1990s, apparently), so they were left with Boom, the only other option their creative people could think of.
    • And you really want to avoid sonic booms, otherwise the flightpath restrictions that supersonic travel faces will kill your project before you get it off the ground.

      • Are you on the pipe son? How, exactly, do you propose to go supersonic, and avoid the physical repercussions? Do you propose a temporary transition to an alternate reality where the laws of physics cease to exist?

        That being said, I believe that they specifically talk about flights from NY to London because that allows them to travel out over the water before going supersonic, thereby guaranteeing it won't affect the general populace.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Are you on the pipe son? How, exactly, do you propose to go supersonic, and avoid the physical repercussions? Do you propose a temporary transition to an alternate reality where the laws of physics cease to exist?

          That being said, I believe that they specifically talk about flights from NY to London because that allows them to travel out over the water before going supersonic, thereby guaranteeing it won't affect the general populace.

          There was some research done quite a few years ago by DARPA (if I remember right) where they were using plasma on the leading edges to help negate the creation of a sonic boom while going super-sonic. I have no idea whether anything panned out from that research but it is a sign that scientists are working on ways to negate sonic booms - if I remember right, it was so they could create a stealth jet that could go super sonic without leaving a tell tail sonic foot print...

        • Are you on the pipe son? How, exactly, do you propose to go supersonic, and avoid the physical repercussions?

          Creative designs. There has been some progress made on making supersonic aircraft quieter, like the NASA's Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration and Quiet Spike.

  • Worst... name.. ever... for an aerospace company. Just one more data point in a very large set proving that geeks have no naming sense.

    • Just wait until they merge with Playtex and rename the company "Boom & Bust"!!!
    • I can think of worse. Howabout Splat! or D'oh!, or Bounce, Rust Bucket, Crash-n-Burn, Cockpit Reefer ("Hey, Pass me that Reefer"), Maintenance is for Sissies, or We Got Motha-Fuckin Snakes! [horrorfanzine.com].

    • You do know that the company isn't a small software startup, right? It is reasonable to conclude that whoever named the company, they were a businessman. Geeks don't tend to start airlines.
      • I know it goes against Slashdot tradition and all, but maybe try reading TFA first:

        Scholl, 35, isn’t the obvious choice to run a fledgling, high-risk aerospace company. He’s a boyish coder and amateur pilot who spent five years at Amazon.com, working on things like automated ad systems, before starting a mobile shopping app maker called Kima Labs. Groupon bought Kima in 2012, leaving him with money in his pocket and a yearning to build something more meaningful than coupon software.

  • They called themselves "Boom"? So they named themselves after the most annoying part of their product. They must have the same marketing team as "They're Disgusting on the Inside, and You Will Have to Look Inside, Sooner or Later" brand diapers.
  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Monday March 21, 2016 @04:12PM (#51746867)

    ...billions and billions and billions of dollars in venture capital.

  • This sounds great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Monday March 21, 2016 @04:15PM (#51746895)

    If they can get the cost of a 3.4 hour transatlantic flight down to the cost of a business class ticket on a regular airplane on the same route, whoever flies these things will get a good amount of demand (one of the big problems for Concorde is that not enough people were willing to pay the premium vs a normal air ticket, if this new mob has solved it so its as affordable as a regular business class seat that problem goes away)

    • by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday March 21, 2016 @05:27PM (#51747617) Homepage Journal
      Think about this. You're talking about burning 5x as much fuel per person, but still charging them the same price? Oh, and the aircraft is being built from scratch so you have to put amortized R&D costs for a limited production aircraft in there as well? It's not like Airlines operate with huge profit margins today, so where is that extra fuel money going to come from? The more I think about this, the more convinced I am that it is a scam. They could just be hopelessly incompetent, but I'm leaning more towards scam.
      • I'm leaning toward the idea that several people know how they plan on achieving their goals and none of them are you. You'll forgive us if we don't assign a strong weighting to your wild uninformed speculation I trust?
      • by delt0r ( 999393 )
        Don't forget engine development. That on its own could cost more R&D than it would ever be worth. Just intakes alone are very hard to design for these sorts of speeds, and have them work well enought at landing and takeoff.
    • Re:This sounds great (Score:4, Informative)

      by iserlohn ( 49556 ) on Monday March 21, 2016 @08:59PM (#51749045) Homepage

      Actually, AF and BA raised the ticket prices after they bough the planes from the government for peanuts and made loads of profit operationally. The R&D and initial build costs for the plane was burdened on the UK and French taxpayers though.

      • AF and BA paid full whack for the planes they ordered - the only discounted aircraft they received were built for other customers who dropped their orders late in the build process.

        The myth that AF and BA paid peanuts for their aircraft is just that, a myth.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 21, 2016 @04:15PM (#51746897)

    Next we'll have a plane that goes almost as fast as the SR-71, and a space rocket that can lift nearly as much as Saturn V.

    Truly incredible what we have achieved in the computer age in just 30 years.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We might even be able to put a man on the moon in 50 years! The brisk pace of technology!

    • If cost is no object, then your comment has merit. But cost matters, which is why a $100 Android phone is impressive even if it doesn't quite have the horsepower of a 1980s Cray supercomputer. That's an extreme example, but certainly you would value a 3 hour ride across the Atlantic, even if you could have paid double to shave off another 10 or 20 minutes.

      • by headkase ( 533448 ) on Monday March 21, 2016 @04:37PM (#51747115)

        which is why a $100 Android phone is impressive even if it doesn't quite have the horsepower of a 1980s Cray supercomputer.

        Actually, a typical smart-phone today kicks the ass of a late 1980's Cray Y-MP [wikipedia.org] super-computer. Shh though, you see, those computers used to be used for certain cutting-edge physics verification calculations. Best if people did think about using a cheap smart-phone for that today.

      • But cost matters, which is why a $100 Android phone is impressive even if it doesn't quite have the horsepower of a 1980s Cray supercomputer.

        I get your point, but you picked a bad example.

        A $100 Android phone today has FAR more computing power than a 1980s Cray supercomputer. It will give a 1990s supercomputer a run for its money (early 90s).

        Consider 1996, ASIC Red, the Intel Supercomputer first to break a teraflop of compute performance. Desktop video cards today have more performance than that.

        The pace of development has been impressive.

        • It's gotta be at least close... the Cray Y-MP could do 333 megaflops per processor, and it had 8 processors. Are there really $100 phones doing 2.6 gigaflops? Graphics is cheating! :)

          Anyway, wrist-slap taken. Next time I'll do a little due diligence...

          • Ok in fairness, a Samsung Galaxy S4 isn't exactly a $100 phone, or it didn't used to be.

            Is $150 close enough? Brand new S4!

            http://www.ebay.com/itm/Samsun... [ebay.com]

            The Galaxy S4 will do over 3 gigaflops, faster than the Cray Y-MP! :)

            ---

            Consider the Cray came with up to 512MB of RAM (original model D), the Galaxy S4 comes with 2GB of RAM.

            There is also the issue that the Galaxy S4 is *slightly* lighter and easier to carry around than the Cray Y-MP was. :)

            ---

            As for "graphics is cheating!", it might be, but only just.

          • by mikael ( 484 )

            Cray Y-MP did double precision floating-point numbers and also had the data bandwidth from storage to match. Mobile phones do floating-point precision to IEEE 894 standards, but they also support low, medium and high precision calculations in GPU shaders.

            While the IEEE 894 standard specifies 32 or 64 bits of precision, some vendors may add extra precision bits in the floating-point adders and multipliers (or simply remove them altogether for speed and power savings).

            http://www.youi.tv/mobile-gpu-... [www.youi.tv]

      • But cost matters, which is why a $100 Android phone is impressive even if it doesn't quite have the horsepower of a 1980s Cray supercomputer.

        Are you sure they don't? A mid 80's Cray-2 managed 1.9 GFLopS. I gather ARMs have been able to do that for a while, and the GPUs manage a lot more.

      • Your model assumes rational consumers. Quite a few successful luxury brands show that is not a valid assumption! Just imagine the status of bragging to your friends that you flew twice the speed of sound! My theory is whenever something is selling for far more than it should cost, you're selling ego boost, not the physical product. (E.g. Strip clubs are in the ego business, not the sex business.)
    • by Pascoea ( 968200 )

      Next we'll have a plane that goes almost as fast as the SR-71

      It really breaks the business model when you can only carry one passenger at a time.

  • by danbob999 ( 2490674 ) on Monday March 21, 2016 @04:16PM (#51746905)

    Wouldn't it make more sense on a longer flight, say between North America and East Asia?

    • Re:Longer flights (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Radical Moderate ( 563286 ) on Monday March 21, 2016 @04:41PM (#51747183)
      Yes, but the trans-Atlantic flights were pretty profitable. Makes sense to start there, then develop trans-Pacific routes. Although range is an issue, the Concorde's max was 4500 miles. San Francisco to Tokyo is 5100 miles, so you might be looking at a refueling stop, which could eliminate any time saved by traveling Mach 2.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by legRoom ( 4450027 )

        Yes. Range is a big problem.

        Standard high-bypass turbofans are very fuel efficient (effective specific impulse 6000s - 9000s) - but they don't work at all at Mach 2+.

        This design must be using either low-bypass turbofans (3000s-4500s), or turbojets (about 2000s - 3000s). If they need afterburners to maintain cruise (as most supersonic designs do), that will reduce fuel efficiency even further (1600s - 2500s).

        The longer trans-Pacific routes are already at the limits of what a subsonic high-bypass plane can do

    • by idji ( 984038 )
      not over land as you'll create sonic booms for the people living underneath. You'dd only be able to do West Coast USA to Pacific coast. That is why Concorde only flew to New York.
    • A huge problem with the Concorde was noise restrictions on sonic booms. It could only really fly from one coastal city to another, namely NY and DC to London and Paris. They tried a subsonic Dallas to DC connecting leg and it failed miserably. The article mentions this in passing, and ignores what a huge deal it is.

      Building a large supersonic airplane has never been the problem. Operating a supersonic airplane profitably in the modern air travel market is the problem, and I don't see any indication that

      • London and Paris are not coastal cities. The great circle from JFK to CDG or LHR is close to land except between Newfoundland and Ireland.
        At this point they might as well do 10 minutes over the Atlantic before going to Tokyo. Or do the sonic boom over lake Ontario.

  • 30%? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <{bert} {at} {slashdot.firenzee.com}> on Monday March 21, 2016 @04:19PM (#51746927) Homepage

    A 30% efficiency gain over a plane designed in the 1960s isn't terribly impressive... There was already a model B Concorde designed and ready to be built back then which improved efficiency and range... Coupled with new lighter materials, more advanced flight control systems, newer engine designs etc it shouldn't be all that difficult to get 30% or more.

    • Re:30%? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kartu ( 1490911 ) on Monday March 21, 2016 @04:39PM (#51747145)

      If it wasn't difficult Concorde would not have been the only successful supersonic passenger plane.
      Soviet Tu - 144 crashed at Le Burget avia show (and was built mostly out of fear that it could have military uses... actually it did).
      US Boeing 2707 never took off.

      The only company extensively using new materials at the moment is Boeing (in its Dreamliner).

      PS
      And, frankly, flying supersonic plane built by a startup? No thanks.

      • DeLorean proves it's nearly impossible to start a new car company from scratch (although Tesla has almost proved it is possible). I'd expect starting a commercial airliner company from scratch would be several orders of magnitude harder than starting a car company, so pretty much impossible.
        • DeLorean proves it's nearly impossible to start a new car company from scratch

          ...if you lack a compelling product.

      • And, frankly, flying supersonic plane built by a startup? No thanks.

        Am I going to be the first passenger? No..

        But you could've said the same thing about an electric car built by a startup.. and Tesla seems to be on the way to doing very well (profitability.. the stock has already done very well).

        • by Kartu ( 1490911 )

          (As far as mechanics go), electric car is much easier to build, than conventional. Here we have the opposite.

          You can't seriously compare consequences (and complexity) of potential problems/safety measures in a plane (and, oh, dear, not just any plain, bloody SUPERSONIC plane) to that of a metal box with 4 wheels that just rolls on the surface.

      • The only company extensively using new materials at the moment is Boeing (in its Dreamliner).

        The A400M is also made out of a lot of composites. Also, many airliners make use of composites in the tail and wings, but not the fuselage like the 787. I think the recent A350 is about as rich in composites as the 787.

        • The A350 has more usage of composites than the Boeing 787, but the A380 beats both of them by use of composites by weight (its entire tail structure, including the fuselage from the composite rear pressure bulkhead rearward is composite, and it boasts the largest composite structure aloft in its centre wing box).

    • The Concorde program was way too expensive to actually pay for itself, though - it required huge government subsidies.

      So, if this startup can really build something with 30% greater fuel efficiency, much cheaper ticket prices, and that actually turns a profit (on development and operations) in the process, that will be a great leap forward in the technology.

      On top of that, they're also claiming that it will be substantially quieter (although that might just be because it's smaller) and a little bit faster (

      • by mikael ( 484 )

        Companies today have the advantage of much cheaper and powerful CAD/CAM/FEA modeling software. You can download preview copies of the applications to run on 64-bit Linux or Windows.

    • A 30% efficiency gain over a plane designed in the 1960s isn't terribly impressive...

      Quoted for truth. The state of development in this area is just sad.

      That, and the fact is, Concorde was SO far ahead of its time, had development continued, we would be much further along today.

  • by chispito ( 1870390 ) on Monday March 21, 2016 @04:36PM (#51747109)
    An aerospace startup is "meant to start test flights next year" of their supersonic jet prototype? The 1/3 scale prototype that doesn't yet exist? I'm more than a little skeptical.
    • Re:Next year? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday March 21, 2016 @05:19PM (#51747543) Homepage Journal
      I'm more than a little skeptical. Either this tiny startup is so incompetent that they don't even have a basic grasp of the scale of the problem they're attempting to tackle, or it's a straight up scam. An all new advanced materials airliner ready to fly in 20 months? If this were some wartime thing and you had a fine tuned skunk works with a Kelly Johnson type at the helm and you had engines ready to go from a different division and an airframe you could modify and a prebuilt avionics cluster then maybe. For a brand new startup it looks outright impossible.

      The almost complete lack of detail on their page is another huge red flag. As far as I can tell they have some computer render of a curvy jet and what looks like a scale model of a very old jet engine.
      • " An all new advanced materials airliner ready to fly in 20 months? "

        You know nothing about this startup. The reason they can do it in 20 months may well be because they are starting from scratch with their own design and approach and are a new company. Never underestimate the difference between the best and the worst engineering processes. When you have direct management sign on to your ideas, capital available, and minimal red tape and internal corporate politics to stand in the way, it is then possibl

        • Supersonic transport is not electronics. Yes, you single handedly fixed/solved issues which [other] people created in just 5 months. Flying (significantly) supersonic requires that you fix/solve actual physics. Solving one part of this project puzzle may very well be accomplished in just a couple of months, but you're talking about hundreds or thousands of individual tasks which have to be solved, all of them simultaneously, and if you get it wrong people will die.

          Juggling with 3 balls is one thing. Jugglin

  • 1 Announce supersonic passenger jet.

    2. Make a plywood model.

    3. ...

    4. Profit!

  • I wonder if there is really enough demand for this. Surely there can't be that many people who have to be back in NYC the same day. As I recall, the Concorde had the same problem, low demand.
    • This is smaller than Concorde, and it it has a smaller per-seat cost, so demand doesn't need to be quite as high. If the range is good enough it might open it up to some other routes as well. Dubai-Singapore-Sydney-Tokyo might be viable (although it will be a bit if a windy route).
      • by jandrese ( 485 )
        To be fair however, that $5000/seat cost assumes that the supersonic jet fairy visits them some time in the next year and magically makes the jet appear.
    • by pz ( 113803 )

      A route between NY (either Kennedy ot LaGuardia) and London (probably London City) would get a fair bit of business from the financial folks. An uncle of mine used to take the Concorde whenever he could for just that reason.

  • Even with a 30% improvement in fuel efficiency vs a concord. Just take a jumbo jet and read a book.
    • Sasquatch would be carbon neutral. Apologize to all non-human bipeds.

      I'd rather see work on train that goes 500 MPH in bedrock in tunnel, pushed by air pressure differential. That could be very energy efficient, moreso than surface diesel rail

  • Seriously a poor choice of name for a company dabbling in the airline business
  • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Monday March 21, 2016 @06:04PM (#51747933)

    TL;DR - US airlines lobbied against supersonic travel over the continental US. Congress got the FAA to ban it. End of story. The rest is wishful thinking while ignoring the regulatory situation on the ground. (The original article has many inaccuracies and made up stuff... but hey, ads.)

    Long Version
    When British Airways and Air France pooled their resources to finance the entire Concorde project it was designed not only for UK/FR to US flights, but also NYC to SFO, and SFO/LAX to Asia and Oceania flights. Their projections were for seat prices about 1.5x regular first-class fares and travel 2-3x faster.

    Fearing competition from these faster planes, US carriers lobbied the US Congress to forbid these aircraft, claiming that the sonic booms would be devastating to the people below, that air traffic control could not handle such fast aircraft, and that it would be unsafe. In reality, air traffic controllers handle supersonic (military) aircraft all the time, as they are allowed (with authorization) to exceed the speed of sound. As the majority of travel would be intercontinental even the sonic booms could occur over the ocean prior to turning inland to make the Mach-2 flight to the other coast. Finally, there were no safety issues with the Concorde, as it had yet to enter service in the US. Until its one fatal accident of ingesting FOD into its engine the Concorde had the unenviable perfect safety record -- unmatched by the conventional US air carrier services.

    Concorde seats did not cost $20,000 (you *did* read the original article, right) they cost $5,000 to go JFK-CDG. Boom wants to compete with that with $5,000 seats. That price was keeping the Concorde full and this would too... but they'd need to do overland CONUS travel to make a profit. Those routes would require a change in FAA rulings. Also there was *NOTHING* about September 2011 that stopped the Concorde. It had long been shelved after the 2000 crash in France. (Seriously, the original article just wasn't paying attention...)

    To start a supersonic program today is in some ways different than in the 1970s. Our technological advances are great; our computers and modeling and simulation are awesome. However, our litigious culture has become much worse. Our astroturf-root organizations and sock-puppet lobbyists have gone from mere industry mouthpieces to an entire industry of opposing anything "revolutionary" or "disruptive." Other than cute little ads that tell you a dollar razor is "disrupting the shaving industry", that the Segway is "disrupting the bicycle industry", or that the Occulus VR is disrupting the video game industry, you can rest assured that in modern over-regulatory-happy America it's easier to legislate against change now than have to explain why you didn't prevent it later.

    Do these guys have a plan? Yes. Do they have a product idea? Yes. However, until they address the regulatory issues that led to the demise of the Concorde, there will be no market success.

    Please note: If you like getting your facts from Wikipedia, please remember that it's a compromise of facts from everyone who chooses to edit it. That means that you're not going to find "The US airlines acted like spoiled children and pissed all over Concorde and bought Federal Legislators until Concorde left for Europe." It's still the way things happened. You're also not going to find "military flights can go supersonic any time they want" in there because there's a desire on the industry's part to leave us thinking that supersonic is just plain loud and dangerous. It's still the way things happen.

    To get a better perspective (at least with only its one author's bias) I recommend these two books:
    1. Concorde: The Rise and Fall of the Supersonic Airliner
    2. The Concorde Story

    Enjoy.

    Ehud
    P.S. I would love to see supersonic passenger travel back. It may start at $5,000 a head, but soon there will be deadhead flights, specials, two-fers, red-eyes, and we can fly from LAX to JFK in two hours (30 to get to the coast and transition to supersonic, 1hr flight, 30 to subsonic and approach).

    • What cost $5000 in 1985 would cost $11,102.50 in 2015.The Inflation Calculator. [westegg.com] In other words, Boom is claiming a ticket for their 40-seat SST will cost half the price charged for one aboard the 128-seat Concorde.

      The Lufthansa executive transatlantic suite in 2016 costs $10,000.

      Including limo service and other amenities. The SST is fast, but far from instantaneous, and over longer routes rather confining and comfortless, and for that there is no easy fix.

    • The "U.S. killed Concorde by prohibiting it from flying over land" theory is cute. But there were plenty of over-land routes in Europe and Asia that Concorde could've been flying even towards the end if it had in fact been economically viable.

      The 1973 Arab oil embargo and subsequent spike in fuel prices is what really killed Concorde. Fuel prices climbing [wikimedia.org] to 2.5x higher than when you began designing the plane, and 5x higher than design price within 4 years of first flight will do that to a fuel-guzzlin
    • As the majority of travel would be intercontinental even the sonic booms could occur over the ocean prior to turning inland to make the Mach-2 flight to the other coast.

      The sonic boom is generated continuously the entire time the plane is flying at supersonic speed, not just at the moment the plane "breaks the sound barrier". The only ways to not affect people on the ground, is to either stay below Mach 1 over populated areas (what Concorde did), or to optimize the plane's aerodynamics to weaken and spread out the pressure spike from the part of the shockwave that is directed toward the ground (what Boom Aerospace is trying to do).

      • by gavron ( 1300111 )

        Interesting! I did not know that... thank you for the refresher.

        having looked it up now, this provides a plethora of information on supersonic flight, sonic booms, overland flight, and reminds me that not only do military aircraft exceed the speed of sound... but so did the Space Shuttle each and every launch:

        http://www.sky-flash.com/boom.... [sky-flash.com]

        E

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Monday March 21, 2016 @06:22PM (#51748091)
    One of the rules in engineering is that you really shouldn't engineer near the limits of your materials. For instance a modern day hammer is so well below what can easily be made with steel and wood that we don't worry about its reliability; even a 50% reduction in strength because of a flaw would still give you a pretty useful hammer, or if the person wielding the hammer is unusually strong, still not a problem . At the opposite end of the spectrum are the materials that go into supersonic or hypersonic transport. If the slightest thing goes wrong the whole thing will just turn to crap. There are all kinds of pictures of airplanes that had fairly catastrophic failures (Aloha Airlines Flight 243 where it went convertible) and the plane landed fairly well. In hypersonic flight a tiny failure would typically result in the thing turning into a meteor.

    So the question is not if a hypersonic transport can be built, but if a rough and ready hypersonic transport can be built. The answer at this point is NO.

    As was discovered with Concorde. The plane could fly under ideal circumstances but the Concorde that crashed wasn't that badly damaged as far as a 747 would have been concerned. This is why there are a zillion 747s and no more Concordes.

    So the only way for these sorts of planes to ever make it to civilian use will be that ever greater testbeds are produced that prove the foolproof nature of the state of the art. A military transport would be a good start. Then when we see pictures of large hypersonic planes where huge bits are torn open and the plane successfully made it to the ground we will not only feel safe to fly in them, but the insurance companies will green light their future.

    Another great example of this sort of engineering being at the very edge would be the damage done to the last shuttle where it was hit by foam. Then the minor damage from the foam basically burned the wing off on reentry. Again the same damage to a 747 might not have been noticed by the flight crew and only picked up when someone was looking at the parked airplane on the ground.
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      This is why there are a zillion 747s and no more Concordes.

      Actually, the fact that there are zillions of 747s is what kept TWA Flight 800 [wikipedia.org] from grounding the fleet. Too large an economic impact on the airline industry. With the Concorde, it was a dozen aircraft.

      So the question is not if a hypersonic transport can be built,

      Mach 2.2 is a long ways away from hypersonic. It's old tech by now.

      Then when we see pictures of large hypersonic planes where huge bits are torn open and the plane successfully made it to the ground we will not only feel safe to fly in them,

      Been there, done that. The Valkyrie [wikipedia.org] test plane #1 suffered from several events of skin delamination and other structural problems. They landed it, diagnosed the problems and fixed them on the #2 aircraft. Lessons learned that are old tech by n

    • What utter shite - Concorde AF 4590 crashed because the fire that resulted from the burst fuel talk had burned through all the control systems on the left wing, causing it to roll uncontrollably to the left.

      No 747 would have been able to recover from that.

      • No, it lost power to an engine resulting in insufficient power to continue to fly. The rotation was because of asymmetrical thrust, not a 747 problem. The great lumbering beast was completely unable to make any semblance of an emergency landing. Also it had tonnes of runway left for any normal airplane to stop but not the Concorde.

        The same damage to most other airplanes would have been far less catastrophic, but each of the systems were engineered at their limits. For instance the impact of the blown t
        • Please read the actual report from the BEA, because your conclusion is completely and utterly wrong in so many ways, you are just spreading bullshit.

          • "The BEA’s critics say that once the tyre burst, the load on the three remaining tyres became uneven, and even if the wheels had been more or less straight before, they now twisted disastrously to the side. The smoking gun is a remarkable series of photographs in the BEA’s own preliminary report. They show unmistakably the skid marks of four tyres, heading off the runway on to its concrete shoulder, almost reaching the rough grass beyond."

            When a burst tire is a huge problem in an airplane, th
    • One of the rules in engineering is that you really shouldn't engineer near the limits of your materials. For instance a modern day hammer is so well below what can easily be made with steel and wood that we don't worry about its reliability; even a 50% reduction in strength because of a flaw would still give you a pretty useful hammer, or if the person wielding the hammer is unusually strong, still not a problem.

      As a blacksmith, I will point out that I have had many a hammer break on me: not just Chinese recast engine blocks on whatever scrapwood they could handle it with, but name-brand hammers that should have had better quality control. I'm not even particularly strong, but for heavy forging work or repetitive striking of hardened steel tools will take a toll eventually, and some are flawed right out of the box with hidden cracks in the handle or an improper heat-treatiment of the head, or once a beautiful handm

      • I completely discounted Chinese anything. I find any product made by the Chinese have a habit of only looking like the thing they are supposed to be. I was referring more to products where the company made more than a half assed attempt to produce a quality product. The key being that you aren't operating your hammers right at the edge of their engineering; A few extra newtons of force and boom it explodes.

        On a different note: Blacksmith; cool!
  • John Denver's hanger may be cursed. Unlike John, I hope Boom does not forget to fill up its fuel tanks prior top take-off. AS bit of that mountain dew can make your head funny and fly you right into the ground. But who am i to judge? Maybe it is better to be dead than sober.
  • The small SST concept dates back to the 1990's.

    Back at Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works, aerodynamicists claimed a breakthrough: computer codes that made it possible to design a supersonic airplane with a much reduced sonic boom. The snag was that the craft could not be very large. It would be a corporate jet. Gulfstream saw a market and teamed with the Skunks.

    The only surviving supersonic project is the decade-old Aerion business jet, designed to fly at supersonic speed over water and just-subsonic --- a few knots faster than a Gulfstream --- over land. But it's only a concept. The jet reappeared at a business aviation show in Geneva last May with its billionaire backer and Aerion's chairman, Robert Bass, offering to fund any qualified aircraft manufacturer to build it. Nobody yet has bitten on that offer.

    Why We Don't Have An SST [airspacemag.com]. Sukhoi--Gulfstream S-21 [wikipedia.org]
    The ten passenger S-21 weighing 54,000 lbs empty would have required 58,000 lbs of fuel for a range of 2,700 miles.

    I don't know how you plan global business travel around an aircraft that has only forty seats --- can you plan a seat being available or are you spinning the wheel of fortune?

  • "Boom is meant to start test flights next year out of John Denver's old hangar"

    So far they have a computer rendering and a plywood cockpit mockup, and they plan to test next year? Suuuuuure they will.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." - Bert Lantz

Working...