Can Supersonic Air Travel still fly?

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In his view, speed, economy and reduced emissions can be achieved through cleaner fuels and new engines designed specifically for supersonic flight. This approach contrasts with that of the Concorde, which used “converted military engines that were super inefficient and roaring loudly,” Mr. Scholl said. (There are no realistic estimates on how and when these engines will be available.)

These engines – along with modern materials, construction methods and efficiencies introduced since the supersonic vogue of the 1970s – would allow Boom to run 75% less than the Concorde, Mr. Scholl said, although he did added that its goal was to be 95% cheaper. . Despite this, he estimated the initial fares to be around the cost of a business class ticket. “It’s still a long way from $ 100,” he admitted.

A handful of companies have offered private supersonic business jets to take international bankers, CEOs and hedge fund managers around the world in rapid and exclusive opulence. But despite the stated intentions of established actors such as Gulfstream and credible upstarts like Spike Aerospace, private supersonic jets have not yet crisscrossed the sky.

The main obstacle seems to be economic. It’s the norm for planes to take longer and cost more to build than expected, and private supersonic jets are no exception.

NASA has government backing and shares much of its research so that any aerospace company can benefit, although it does not work with a specific airline or manufacturer. But without government funding, it’s more difficult for companies like Gulfstream and Boom. There is an edifying tale in the experience of Aerion Supersonic, a veteran aviation company that was underwritten by billionaire Robert Bass, in partnership with Boeing, and claimed pre-orders of $ 11.2 billion. dollars. Unable to raise enough money to keep the doors open, Aerion closed in May and is now in liquidation in a Florida court.

While supersonic travel would be a boon to international business, there are too many unknowns to predict its viability as a business, said Bijan Vasigh, who teaches economics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “Are there 50 people a day who want to fly to London? He asked. “Do we know how much people are willing to pay? “

He added: “We are doing our best analysis, but everything could change in the future. The best economist cannot find the answer.


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