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Supersonic Flight... Once More?

I found this article while I was looking through my inbox a few years back, and I didn't take it seriously. But I found yesterday that it 100% true; supersonic flight is coming back! Now, if I remember correctly, it was extremely expensive to get a supersonic flight on the Concorde, so this may produce (at first) a bit of false excitement. Boom Technology has a new supersonic airplane: XB-1. Here's the link. It has a grand total of 18617 parts. Please look into this.
 

LeonK

New member
Just by looking at the footage I have a guess how exclusive supersonic flight will be... Concorde was carrying about 100 passengers. I couldn't see a number for XB-1, but it doesn't look as if it's aiming for anything close to that... which doesn't really get my hopes up that supersonic flight will become affordable to the masses.

Please tell me I'm wrong. I'd love to be wrong on this :)
 
Just by looking at the footage I have a guess how exclusive supersonic flight will be... Concorde was carrying about 100 passengers. I couldn't see a number for XB-1, but it doesn't look as if it's aiming for anything close to that... which doesn't really get my hopes up that supersonic flight will become affordable to the masses.

Please tell me I'm wrong. I'd love to be wrong on this :)
If you look here, they have the Overture, but it appears to only seat 55 passengers, I guess. I sure hope it is better in the fuel economy department. If it is, the ticket price will drop significantly. Maybe @74Gear, or @Xanatos should look into this, because there is a lot of unknowns with these aircrafts. I don't know much more than this on this subject: the Concorde was acquitted because of its inefficiency.
 

Xanatos

Administrator
Staff member
If you look here, they have the Overture, but it appears to only seat 55 passengers, I guess. I sure hope it is better in the fuel economy department. If it is, the ticket price will drop significantly. Maybe @74Gear, or @Xanatos should look into this, because there is a lot of unknowns with these aircrafts. I don't know much more than this on this subject: the Concorde was acquitted because of its inefficiency.
I cannot speak intelligently on the specific engineering of such aircraft as I am not an aerospace engineer or expert but a few things struck me as odd. I have not done anything beyond a quick glance over at their website but I am cautious because they are a privately held company which means funding is not as generous as it would be with a public company and I cannot go over their balance sheet & 10-K to see their revenue and cost structure (a great way to find tell-tell signs of economic instability). Typically airplane manufacturers have extremely thin profit margins and require a great deal of "economies of scale" to function at profitable levels for sustainable periods of good economic conditions (something which I am afraid to say is not the current economic climate). Looking closer at some of the information you mentioned I would ponder the following questions based simply on what you said and where we are today:

1) At 55 seats per plane (geared towards long-haul business class travelers), ticket prices would have to be exuberant to cover the costs of the aircraft itself (not incl. R & D cost) and the meta costs of operating/servicing the aircraft (not incl. any new equipment that airlines / airports will need to be outfitted with). Is this going to generate sustainable amounts of revenue in both the short & long term to recoup initial costs and then operating costs? Keep mind, even when supersonic flight was popular, it was seen as an eccentricity for the ultra-wealthy and not for common travel or even business travel (businesses did/do not like to spend money on extravagant travel methods) because it was cost prohibitive.
2) The last time we had public supersonic flight was approximately 20 years ago (IIRC Concorde flew its last flight circa 2001, pre September 11 2001 attacks). Essentially, supersonic flight existed before the IoT (Internet of Things) and what I could call the modern internet:
  • Excellent VoIP/voice chat (incl. iPhone FaceTime & mobile devices)
  • Video conferencing software
  • Virtual conferencing/presentation software (incl. realtime collaboration)
This is not even mentioning that COVID-19 has many businesses and industries re-examining their operations structure and work force organization (i.e. WFH (working from home/remote) is much more viable) to the point that such travel (incl. local and long distance/domestic) is being reduced in general because it may no longer be needed in many businesses, industries, and operation models. Given the amount of overhead most businesses have had to sustain and not to mention increases in debit liabilities during this COVID-19 pandemic, I am skeptical that most businesses will see the benefit to greater expenditures on, arguably non-essential (or at least non-time sensitive), travel (i.e. see question #1 regarding the pricing model for such flight) that they would not use the more economical options of conventional flight. --- Essentially, with all of the modern advancements of technology that did not exist the last time we had public supersonic flight, economic turmoil due to COVID-19, and the changes in workplace / remote work being much more viable: what is the value proposition of supersonic flight to their target demographic market (i.e. people who travel in business class and typically long-haul flights)?

I will do more research on the subject as I have not spent much more than a few minutes glancing over a few of the pages on the company's website but I think that there is as much, if not more so, valid concern for the viability of supersonic flight even now as when it was first tried decades ago. It's cool though ... so there is that :)

P.S.

One strong application for commercial usage of supersonic flight could be freight such that businesses could ship products farther, faster (e.g. Amazon reducing delivery times to either "Same-day" or "less than 12 ~ 18 hours"). I would imagine this might be what supersonic flight is used for more than passenger transportation.
 
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I cannot speak intelligently on the specific engineering of such aircraft as I am not an aerospace engineer or expert but a few things struck me as odd. I have not done anything beyond a quick glance over at their website but I am cautious because they are a privately held company which means funding is not as generous as it would be with a public company and I cannot go over their balance sheet & 10-K to see their revenue and cost structure (a great way to find tell-tell signs of economic instability). Typically airplane manufacturers have extremely thin profit margins and require a great deal of "economies of scale" to function at profitable levels for sustainable periods of good economic conditions (something which I am afraid to say is not the current economic climate). Looking closer at some of the information you mentioned I would ponder the following questions based simply on what you said and where we are today:

1) At 55 seats per plane (geared towards long-haul business class travelers), ticket prices would have to be exuberant to cover the costs of the aircraft itself (not incl. R & D cost) and the meta costs of operating/servicing the aircraft (not incl. any new equipment that airlines / airports will need to be outfitted with). Is this going to generate sustainable amounts of revenue in both the short & long term to recoup initial costs and then operating costs? Keep mind, even when supersonic flight was popular, it was seen as an eccentricity for the ultra-wealthy and not for common travel or even business travel (businesses did/do not like to spend money on extravagant travel methods) because it was cost prohibitive.
2) The last time we had public supersonic flight was approximately 20 years ago (IIRC Concorde flew its last flight circa 2001, pre September 11 2001 attacks). Essentially, supersonic flight existed before the IoT (Internet of Things) and what I could call the modern internet:
  • Excellent VoIP/voice chat (incl. iPhone FaceTime & mobile devices)
  • Video conferencing software
  • Virtual conferencing/presentation software (incl. realtime collaboration)
This is not even mentioning that COVID-19 has many businesses and industries re-examining their operations structure and work force organization (i.e. WFH (working from home/remote) is much more viable) to the point that such travel (incl. local and long distance/domestic) is being reduced in general because it may no longer be needed in many businesses, industries, and operation models. Given the amount of overhead most businesses have had to sustain and not to mention increases in debit liabilities during this COVID-19 pandemic, I am skeptical that most businesses will see the benefit to greater expenditures on, arguably non-essential (or at least non-time sensitive), travel (i.e. see question #1 regarding the pricing model for such flight) that they would not use the more economical options of conventional flight. --- Essentially, with all of the modern advancements of technology that did not exist the last time we had public supersonic flight, economic turmoil due to COVID-19, and the changes in workplace / remote work being much more viable: what is the value proposition of supersonic flight to their target demographic market (i.e. people who travel in business class and typically long-haul flights)?

I will do more research on the subject as I have not spent much more than a few minutes glancing over a few of the pages on the company's website but I think that there is as much, if not more so, valid concern for the viability of supersonic flight even now as when it was first tried decades ago. It's cool though ... so there is that :)

P.S.

One strong application for commercial usage of supersonic flight could be freight such that businesses could ship products farther, faster (e.g. Amazon reducing delivery times to either "Same-day" or "less than 12 ~ 18 hours"). I would imagine this might be what supersonic flight is used for more than passenger transportation.
Thank you. As always, you have been extremely helpful. Well, I guess supersonic flight is going to continue to be rare after all.
 

Xanatos

Administrator
Staff member
I got this Link to key.aero in my inbox yesterday. This provides more information.
Could you post a copy the article's content (and any future article's you may come across and want to discuss here) and repost it here (with appropriate credits & source link)? Their site may go down, delete the article, etc. (it happens all the time) and then future readers of this thread won't know what was in that link / article and become confused on further discussions in here. This way we can preserve a copy of it on our site for our users and keep the thread contextual / relevant for future users.

Please and thanks! :)
 

Zeede

Active member
The reason the Concorde did not revolutionize air travel is because of the sonic boom *all* supersonic planes emit as they fly at supersonic speeds. Airlines were lining up to order the Condorde...until they realized that the general public does not tolerate sonic booms very well. The only reason Air France and British Airways flew the ones they had was because neither could back out of the program. There were also studies done showing that commercial supersonic travel could damage our ozone layer.

Unless this new company has come up with a way to eliminate both the sonic boom and the potential damage to the ozone layer, I don't see this being anything more than a billionaire's plaything, like the Virgin Galactic space flights.
 
Could you post a copy the article's content (and any future article's you may come across and want to discuss here) and repost it here (with appropriate credits & source link)? Their site may go down, delete the article, etc. (it happens all the time) and then future readers of this thread won't know what was in that link / article and become confused on further discussions in here. This way we can preserve a copy of it on our site for our users and keep the thread contextual / relevant for future users.

Please and thanks! :)
Ok, will do. Wish I thought about that beforehand.
This is what the article said:


Boom Supersonic was awarded a contract by the US Air Force (USAF) on September 8 to explore options for a supersonic executive transport aircraft, which could be employed by the service.

The Denver-based start-up has been granted a contract by the USAF under its programme designed to help fund innovations with future military aircraft. The company is currently working to produce the world’s fastest airliner - the Overture - which is scheduled to fly this decade and is due to enter operational civil service by 2030.



Boom Force One

The Boom Overture is scheduled to fly for the first time in the late 2020s. Boom Supersonic


The agreement will fund explorations of an Overture configuration designed for Air Force executive transports. The US Department of Defense (DoD) and the air force manage all air transport for executive branch top leadership, including Air Force One.

Blake Scholl, Boom founder and CEO commented: “Supersonic flight brings people together, whether for work, family or global diplomacy. By cutting travel times we make it possible for US diplomats and executive leaders to connect more frequently in person, meeting challenges and defusing potential crises with a personal touch. We’re so proud to help envision a new way for the Air Force to provide transport for critical government activities.”

Currently, the firm is manufacturing a one-third scale demonstrator aircraft for Overture which it plans to roll out in this year for flight testing to begin in 2021. Called the XB-1, the jet is expected to prove the key technologies for safe, efficient, and sustainable travel at supersonic speeds.

The Boom Overture will be a Mach 2.2, 55-passenger supersonic transport aircraft with a range of around 4,500 miles. The jet has already received 30 pre-orders from Japan Airlines and Virgin Group.




I will continue to post articles like this. And, @Zeede, I don't agree with the studies that the ozone layer will be depleted by supersonic flight, because the ozone layer is constantly replenishing itself. Btw, I don't think climate change exists. It's called weather. Here is the link. Here is the article:

The ozone layer is healing, new study finds

It heralds a rare success in the reversal of environmental damage and shows that global action can make a difference


The ozone layer is continuing to heal and has the potential to fully recover, according to a new study.
A scientific paper, published in Nature, heralds a rare success in the reversal of environmental damage and shows that orchestrated global action can make a difference.
The ozone layer is a protective shield in the Earth’s stratosphere which absorbs most of the ultraviolet radiation reaching us from the sun.

Without the ozone layer it would be nearly impossible for anything to survive on the planet.

In the past, human use of substances – chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – caused such life-threatening damage to the ozone layer that in 1987, an international treaty called the “Montreal Protocol” was adopted to ban them.

Antara Banerjee, a CIRES Visiting Fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder who also works at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is lead author of the study.
She told The Independent: “We found signs of climate changes in the southern hemisphere, specifically in the air circulation patterns.
“The challenge was showing that these changing air circulation patterns were due to the shrinking ozone hole following the implementation of the Montreal Protocol.
“The jet stream in the southern hemisphere was gradually shifting towards the south pole in the last decades of the 20th century due to ozone depletion.
“Our study found that movement has stopped since 2000 and might even be reversing. The pause in movement began around the same time that the ozone hole started to recover.

“The emissions of ozone-depleting substances that were responsible for the ozone hole - the CFCs from spray cans and refrigerants – started to decline around 2000, thanks to the Montreal Protocol.”
She added: “It’s not just ozone that affects the jet stream – CO2 also has an effect. What we are seeing is that there is a ‘tug-of-war’ between ozone recovery, which pulls the jet stream one way (to the North), and rising CO2, which pulls the other way (to the South).

“We are seeing the pause in the shifting jet stream because these two forces are currently in balance. That might change in the future when ozone has fully recovered and CO2 carries on pushing it south.”
The impacts of this “pause” in shifting wind patterns varies, meaning parts of the world will be affected differently.
She said: “In Australia, for example, before 2000 in the ozone-depletion era, it was suggested that winters were drying because the jet stream was moving further south and taking rain-bearing storms away from that region. Those changes might now stabilise which could be good news for Australia.
“For other regions like South America, ozone-depletion had caused an expansion of the tropics and led to more rainfall. Bands of agricultural production widened which was good for them but might now stabilise. That has implications for their economies and food security.”
Overall, it is good news for the fight against climate change.
She added: “The second most important point of the study, which I would say is a very good finding, is further evidence that the ozone hole is shrinking and that is thanks to the Montreal Protocol.
“It shows that this international treaty has worked and we can reverse the damage that we’ve already done to our planet. That’s a lesson to us all that can hopefully be applied to our greenhouse gas emissions to tackle climate change.
“If we keep adhering to this protocol then the ozone hole is projected to recover – at different times, in different parts of the atmosphere. In some regions, we think it might happen in the next couple of decades and in others much later in the century.”
 

Zeede

Active member
@PotentialAviator15 Thank you for the informative articles! So it looks like they're just going to use it for VIP rapid transport. Makes sense. That should reduce the frequency of sonic booms over populated areas, which was the main reason the Concorde program failed.
 
@PotentialAviator15 Thank you for the informative articles! So it looks like they're just going to use it for VIP rapid transport. Makes sense. That should reduce the frequency of sonic booms over populated areas, which was the main reason the Concorde program failed.
Indeed! Maybe whenever you hear a sonic boom above you it may mean someone important is going somewhere. :LOL:
 

Roichi

Member
As sonic booms are related to size and speed (engery) they will most likely be quite weak for VIP travel. And companies are working for some years now in reducing the boom signature by using special nose cones.
So it most likely comes down to efficiency like with the Concorde.

Supersonic travel is just not very fuel efficient due to aerodynamics. And with fuel prices rising and fuel being no unlimited supply the costs will not allow for public transportation to be supersonic.
 
As sonic booms are related to size and speed (engery) they will most likely be quite weak for VIP travel. And companies are working for some years now in reducing the boom signature by using special nose cones.
So it most likely comes down to efficiency like with the Concorde.

Supersonic travel is just not very fuel efficient due to aerodynamics. And with fuel prices rising and fuel being no unlimited supply the costs will not allow for public transportation to be supersonic.
There is also the struggle with finding inexpensive tough materials, such as needed to endure supersonic flight, mainly due to extreme frictional heat. Also, I can't imagine that anybody who values fuel would board a gas guzzler like the Overture.

Edit-- But then again, VIPs don't really care (at least in my experience) how much fuel they're using- they are just trying to get from point A to point B.
 
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I think supersonic may be superseded by sub-orbital.
I don't know. It seems like sub-orbital flight is mainly recreational, and not actually for transportation. Plus, sub-orbital flight appears to be more expensive than supersonic flight. I found a couple of sources on this:


Suborbitality.com

Dedicated Suborbital Launch Service
We will launch your payload to space for a fraction of the price of the competition
We offer our suborbital launch services to the following categories:

BASIC AND APPLIED RESEARCH

AEROSPACE HARDWARE TEST AND DEMONSTRATION

MEDIA AND PR, NOVELTIES, MEMORABILIA

EDUCATION

  • Typical flight altitude is greater than 120 km, allowing for 3+ minutes of high quality microgravity
  • Four standard payload module sizes for with three space-access options for flexible payload requirements
  • Lowest price per kilogram of any existing or planned suborbital launch vehicle
  • First launch to space: summer 2019

Here is the 2nd link (https://www.wired.co.uk/article/sub-orbital-flight-virgin-galactic-blue-origin) ; I didn't copy the article because it was too long.
 

Plague

New member
I don't know. It seems like sub-orbital flight is mainly recreational, and not actually for transportation.
At present, yes.
But for warhead delivery the military seem to use either cruise (subsonic) or ICBM (suborbital). I can't help thinking that delivering passengers is not that much different :)
 
At present, yes.
But for warhead delivery the military seem to use either cruise (subsonic) or ICBM (suborbital). I can't help thinking that delivering passengers is not that much different :)
Yes; one can only wonder if transportation will arise from sub-orbital flight. But for now, I think that supersonic flight is more likely to be commonplace than sub-orbital flight, as sub-orbital aircraft require special takeoff locations. For supersonic flight, runways are already ready for the Overture and alike aircraft.

P.S. A nice thought though!
 
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