Monday, February 06, 2017
When Will We
When will we return to supersonic travel? I recall the days of the space race, the massive spread of technology, when several global companies were competing to develop supersonic commercial aircraft. Only two designs ever made it into production, a dozen or so Concords flew, and a handful of Tupolevs. The American designs were all canceled before a flying prototype was built. The costs were high, and in the end government funding failed to come through. The other two designs were made possible by significant government funding for development costs.
In the end the Concords flew about their expected life cycle, proving reliable. The Tupolev only flew for a few years and had a rocky history of engineering issues. There has been so much advancement in materials science and engineering since those two were designed, that if you designed a new SST from the ground up today, it would be a much better plane.
No place in the world today, can you buy a ticket and travel faster than the speed of sound on a scheduled flight. And that is sad. We learn so much from pushing the limits, and the speed of sound is a limit left to be pushed for airline travel. The concept of two hours from New York to Paris, still has allure. Over my lifetime jet travel has shortened international travel time, but with the SSTs out of the picture we are stuck at the speeds of the 1960's. It is time to go farther and faster.
If you could get anyplace on the face of the earth in a two hour flight - where would you go?