Supersonic Airliner

From the Concorde thread.

With the way the world has changed in the last 18 months, does anyone really believe that there is a market for this?

The planes won’t be in operation for eight or nine years. So what ever changes happened in the last year may not be relevant.

What causes you to question the market? People flying less? I would expect flying to get back to “normal” by the end of this year. I know my wife and I are certainly dreaming of our next trips to NYC, Chicago, L.A., and Europe. I would love to fly faster, and on a carbon neutral aircraft.

Given the economics of supersonic flight, and the displacement of business travel by teleconferencing in situations where time is of the essence, I’d be surprised if they were in operation for eight or nine months.

I believe he meant they won’t be in operation until eight or nine years from now.

Exactly. The planes are still being developed. Market conditions may be very different in 2030 than they are now in the wake of a global pandemic.

Steve’s got a fair point though: the Concorde was never immensely profitable. So even if we disregard the sudden and dramatic rise in teleconferencing due to the pandemic, what differentiates the Boom supersonic planes from the Concorde? Why will Boom’s planes make money when the Concorde didn’t?

Hard to know. The company is betting they’ve figured it out. I’m sure there will be a demand for such a plane from passengers. The airlines will have to figure out if they can make a profit operating these things.

Concorde was a technological marvel of its time, but the airline arrived to the scene too soon to be economically viable. Hindered by afterburners and dated systems, the airliner suffered from inefficiencies and significant maintenance costs.

Where Concorde proved that airliners could carry passengers at supersonic speed, XB-1 will demonstrate the key technologies that enable affordable and accessible supersonic travel for the next generation.

Equipped with advanced aerodynamics, carbon composite materials, and high-efficiency supersonic intakes, XB-1 is able to cut significant development and maintenance costs in ways Concorde never could.

Presumably the people who invested in Boom and the bean counters at United Airlines think there is something to this.

The OP is not a General Question. This is closer to debate, so I’ll move it to GD.

AFAIK Concorde was never even remotely profitable. If you can’t fly supersonic over land, and with airports tightening noise restrictions and fuel prices going up all the time it’s hard to tell where Boom’s market is.

I’m thinking United Airlines thinks it can offer seats on the supersonic jet as a reward for high-mileage fliers. That might keep them loyal to United rather than another carrier. Is that alone worth the investment?

The market proposition of supersonic air travel was never “I need to talk to someone on the other side of an ocean right now”. We had phones for that in the 1960s too. It’s “I’m crossing an ocean, and I’m very rich and important, so I want to do it in style without losing a whole day”.

Compared to the Concorde, the Boom planes are smaller and more efficient and the world is both more interconnected and more unequal. All of that points to possible economic success for Boom.

It might be interesting to see if it will be more acceptable to the American airfields who opposed Concorde. I suspect that it will be too noisy for Heathrow and Charles de Gaul.

Certainly there will be a demand. There was demand for the Concorde, too. It just wasn’t enough demand, and the demand has since gone down even further.

Except, why is this Rich and Important Person crossing an ocean? Most likely, to talk to people. And while it was possible to talk to people on the phone in 1960, it didn’t work nearly as well then as it does now. And so there’s less need for travel now. The need hasn’t disappeared entirely, but it’s decreased.

You have companies investing in personal space flight so that people with way too much money can spend a few minutes in weightlessness 100km up. If that enterprise can be remotely profitable I’m pretty sure luxury super sonic flight at a faction of the price can make a go of it.

Under this deal, United Airlines will buy 15 of Boom’s ‘Overture’ aircrafts, provided they meet the carriers’ safety, operating and sustainability requirements.

United are probably quite comfortable that these aircraft (not “aircrafts”, when did journalists become illiterate?) won’t meet their “safety, operating and sustainability requirements” and are happy to tag along for a bit of a marketing ride in the meantime.

The general idea of all these future supersonic bizjets and supersonic long range but RJ-sized jets has several features worth mentioning.

  • Unlike Concorde, they won’t make sonic booms audible at the ground.

  • Unlike Concorde they expect they will be allowed to fly supersonically over land.

  • Unlike Concorde they won’t be materially noisier on takeoff, climb, approach, and landing than other contemporary 2020s designs.

  • The rest of the cost equation, and most especially the amortization of the development cost, will result in costs higher than conventional aircraft. But unlike Concorde, not stupid impossibly higher.

  • Just like with Concorde, the rich and the big business execs will happily pay extra for (or have their shareholders’ pay extra for) high speed more convenient long haul travel.

I can see a six hour San Francisco to Tokyo run becoming very popular.

Googling, current flight time for San Francisco to Tokyo is about eleven hours.