August 23, 2005
Flying into the Future

Slashdot linked up news that Japan is getting ready to start testing its supersonic transport (SST) research models again. Their ultimate goal is to create a 300 passenger Mach 2 transport, but for now they'll be content with a small-scale prototype that doesn't punch holes in the Australian outback like it did last time.

Boeing periodically dusts off its own SST plans, with precisely this same goal. The last time they tried they nearly launched the trans-sonic transport, a Mach .95 aircraft that could carry large numbers of passengers at not quite the speed of sound. That project was cancelled in favor of the upcoming 787, a transport with more conventional performance but extremely exotic manufacturing techniques*.

Is there room in the market for an SST? Well, until it crashed (and 9/11 happened) Concorde was actually making some money, although it probably never would have paid back its development costs. Still, it seems to imply there is a market for the thing. If the Japanese and French developers can keep costs down, who knows?

* The entire fuselage will be made of a single gigantic tube of carbon fiber with things like door and window openings "woven in", for example.

Posted by scott at August 23, 2005 01:05 PM

eMail this entry!
Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?