josephpym
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Are Supersonic Airliners Viable?

Sat Nov 18, 2017 1:31 pm

I am writing a dissertation about supersonic travel, and for some research I was hoping you could give me your thoughts on whether or not SSTs are viable? Please give and explain any reasons and if you have used any sources please link them, thanks.
 
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DocLightning
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Re: Are Supersonic Airliners Viable?

Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:59 pm

From a strictly economic perspective, I think that supersonic travel has potential. But the economics are formidable. Concorde carried about 1/3 the passengers of the 747-100/200 but had similar fuel burn. Turbofan technology has made leaps and bounds since the first 747s, but turbojet technology has not. That said, on the routes Concorde could fly, AF and BA made it profitable. It turns out that there was a market for passengers who would pay a hefty premium (something like a F-class ticket on a 747) for the speed of the crossing (and the novelty).

But if we were to assume that certain modern innovations could be put into a turbojet to bring fuel efficiency up to par with, the 777 but flying only 100-120 passengers, there is also the problem of materials. Whether the airplane is made of lead, aluminum, titanium, CFRP, NTRP, or formed angels' wings, you will need four times as much material, and a lot of engineering designed around the significant expansion of various airplane components with the heat of passage. And, regardless of whether the airplane powered by coal, diesel, jet A, fusion, or angel farts, you need 3-4x as much fuel to achieve supersonic speeds. The laws of physics are the laws of physics.

The thing that sank Concorde was the sonic boom. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbPh2llw0-M It was certainly an attention-getter and they did test supersonic flight over land and people complained. It is possible to ameliorate the sonic boom using lower speeds and airplane shapes that cause the shockwaves to interfere with each other. The problem is that this leads to more unusable space inside the airplane and the lower the speed, the less benefit there is. We'd really like to be able to offer supersonic service between any two points, not just overwater.

So there are a lot of issues to resolve before we get to commercially viable supersonic transport and even once we do, expect to shell out a lot of money for the privilege.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
-Carl Sagan
 
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SheikhDjibouti
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Re: Are Supersonic Airliners Viable?

Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:25 pm

josephpym wrote:
I am writing a dissertation about supersonic travel, and for some research I was hoping you could give me your thoughts on whether or not SSTs are viable? Please give and explain any reasons and if you have used any sources please link them, thanks.

I would say Doc pretty much nailed it.
There are two issues regarding "cost";
1) Development cost
2) Running costs
If you know anything about Concorde's history, you will know how that worked out.
And, as the Doc says, even today there is definitely a limited market for a premium service at premium prices.
But you really need a mass market, in order to sell 1,000+ aircraft, in order to stand some chance of recovering the frightening development costs. This applies to any airliner today, and even more so to an SST proposal.

There are also two issues regarding noise.
1) the sonic boom
2) engine noise at/around airports
Engine technology has moved on a little, and a new SST today could feature quieter engines, particularly if they could function without reheat until reaching operational altitude.
Unfortunately at the same time, public demands for quieter aircraft have become tighter and tighter, raising the bar.
I'm not an engine expert myself, but it is almost the case that a new SST would need a set of high-bypass turbofans for a quiet take-off, plus another set of low-bypass engines with reheat for supersonic cruise. And you would need to make the take-off engines disappear in-flight to avoid the drag they would create at supersonic speeds.
In short, it isn't going to happen that way. The best that might happen is a compromise, and "compromise" and "supersonic" are not happy bed-fellows.

I don't have any magic references that give you all the answers; nobody does. But you cannot go far wrong using Wikipedia as a starting point.
There are two things that happen when you get old.
1. You start to lose your memory.
2. What was I saying again?
 
FlyHossD
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Re: Are Supersonic Airliners Viable?

Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:02 pm

Doc's post was very good. Also, you may want to check out https://boomsupersonic.com - they're working on a project right up your alley.
My statements do not represent my former employer or my current employer and are my opinions only.
 
SpinOn2
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Re: Are Supersonic Airliners Viable?

Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:57 pm

I honestly think a concorde could be viable again for a Transpacific flight personally. I know the Concorde's of old couldn't make the hop in one go, but with one refueling stop I am sure they could. Imagine if you could cut a 16 hours flight in half. that would be amazing for well-off business travelers flying to an from Asia.
 
Braniff1
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Re: Are Supersonic Airliners Viable?

Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:32 am

josephpym wrote:
I am writing a dissertation about supersonic travel, and for some research I was hoping you could give me your thoughts on whether or not SSTs are viable? Please give and explain any reasons and if you have used any sources please link them, thanks.


I think you might be best off by offering "Doc lightning" a few large to write your paper. Sounds like he's got the subject covered. Are you going to post your dissertation so we can enjoy?
 
dstc47
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Re: Are Supersonic Airliners Viable?

Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:28 am

" AF and BA made it profitable"

BA were effectively given aircraft for nothing, or almost nothing, by the UK Government.
So "profitable" is an odd term to use. They may have covered the Concorde operating costs, for a time.

Don't know about AF but given the long standing support for the aircraft industry there, it seems unlikely that less advantageous terms were on offer there.
 
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DocLightning
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Re: Are Supersonic Airliners Viable?

Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:53 pm

Braniff1 wrote:
I think you might be best off by offering "Doc lightning" a few large to write your paper. Sounds like he's got the subject covered. Are you going to post your dissertation so we can enjoy?


Three degrees and 22 years of school... I think I'm done writing papers. :)
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
-Carl Sagan
 
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SheikhDjibouti
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Re: Are Supersonic Airliners Viable?

Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:57 pm

dstc47 wrote:
" AF and BA made it profitable"

BA were effectively given aircraft for nothing, or almost nothing, by the UK Government.
So "profitable" is an odd term to use. They may have covered the Concorde operating costs, for a time.

"may have covered the costs" .....and..... "for a time". :lol:

Yes, they were given the aircraft for almost nothing. Actually, let's not beat around the bush;
Wikipedia wrote:
British Airways paid £1 per aircraft, so its entire Concorde fleet cost the airline £7

Wikipedia also wrote:
In 1983, BA's managing director, Sir John King, convinced the government to sell the aircraft outright to the then state-owned British Airways for £16.5 million plus the first year's profits
Take your pick!

In 1977 it was predicted that "The present Concordes will fly on the routes for ten years or so; then they will probably disappear"

And for a while (only a short while) BA struggled to make it work economically. Compare these prices from 1984.
Subsonic; London – Washington first-class return = £2,258
Concorde; London – Washington first-class return = £2,426
That is a mere 7.5% premium for the priviledge of flying at twice the speed of sound. :roll:

The legend is that the man in charge of examining Concorde's profitability (can't remember his name) took the unusual step of asking exactly who typically bought tickets for Concorde; he found that it was just as likely to be "Beryl", the CEO's personal assistant, using company funds. When he asked the actual ticket holder how much the ticket cost, most CEOs had absolutely no idea. Putting it simply; they wanted to fly Concorde, and they would ensure that their company would pay whatever BA demanded. BA were sitting on a gold mine.

Profitability was then just a matter of increasing the ticket price, again, and again.
Even so, this didn't put off potential passengers. Queen guitarist Brian May famously purchased two tickets; one for him, and another for his precious guitar.

So yes, BA "may have covered the Concorde operating costs, for a time"......
There are two things that happen when you get old.
1. You start to lose your memory.
2. What was I saying again?
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Are Supersonic Airliners Viable?

Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:24 am

R. E. G. Davies wrote a good book on the subject:

Supersonic (Airliner) Non-Sense (Paladwr, 1998)

It’s less about the direct costs as the difficulty in getting high utilization rates to be economic.

GF
 
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DocLightning
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Re: Are Supersonic Airliners Viable?

Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:49 am

SheikhDjibouti wrote:
And for a while (only a short while) BA struggled to make it work economically. Compare these prices from 1984.
Subsonic; London – Washington first-class return = £2,258
Concorde; London – Washington first-class return = £2,426
That is a mere 7.5% premium for the priviledge of flying at twice the speed of sound. :roll:


A point. Passengers on Concorde were not F-class, Concorde was one-class and it was considered its own class of service. Concorde Class. It had its own lounge at JFK and LHR. The soft product was unbeatable. AF even had special uniforms by Givenchy for their FAs on their service. The seats are reported as comfortable, but one does not take Concorde to sleep.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
-Carl Sagan

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