HE PROSPECTS FOR COMMERCIAL SUPERSONIC TRANSPORT

A. R. Scebass

University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, L’SA

1.1 Introduction

This chapter on the prospects for commercial transport at supersonic speeds must begin by de­ciding what we will call the genetic prospective aircraft Since the first generation aircraft were called Supersonic Transports, or SSTs for short, this practice is continued here Today, in the United States. NASA’s nomenclature is High Speed Civil Transports or HSCTs. while in Europe and Japan it is Supersonic Commercial Transports or SCTs

The title of this introductory chapter may seem ill-advised. Commercial transport at supersonic speeds has been a reality since 1976 Indeed, it has been a great technical success. The Concorde fleet has flown over 300.000 hours, most of them at supersonic speeds, and it has done so with over 93‘3t – reliability These aircraft will be in service for many years to come (1)1 can go to my local travel agent and buy a ticket to fly from Kennedy International Airport out­side of New York City to Heathrow Airport outside of London on British Airways, or to Charles de Gaulle Airptxi outside of Paris on Air France, and back The round-trip fare for the summer season. 1996, was 57,574 for London and S6.5I6 for Paris The corresponding first-class, busi­ness, and full coach fares are $6,752. $4,496. and $2,274 for London, and $5,700. $3,220 and $2,042 for Paris, the discount coach fares are $586 for London and S838 for Pans The cost of halving my flight time between New York and London or Pans is. averaging the two trips, about 113** that for first-class. 1835fr that for business class. 425Я that for coach and nearly 10 times that for discount coach During the previous winter season, the discount coach fares were about 509f less, making Concorde travel over 15 limes more expensive than discount coach then. The

discount fare to London during the 1996-97 winter season was less than 1/30 of the Concorde’s $7995 fare there.

We can probably assume that this fare is covering the direct operating cost of the Con­corde. exclusive of the depreciation or amortization of the aircraft itself. At these lares the mar­ket for supersonic travel is very limited.

Current scheduled Concorde flights include London • New York. Paris – New York in the summer, and London – Barbados (weekly). Recent reports on the Concorde indicate that the dozen now in service are under utilized (2). (3J. Excursion flights arc a small but growing part of the Concorde operations While service to and from Dulles Airport to dc Gaulle and to Hea­throw was provided by both airlines for many years, this (from Dulles to Heathrow> was discon­tinued in November 1994.

The first SST to fly was the Tupolev-144. with its maiden flight on December ЗІ. 196H. a year before the Concorde’s first flight. Tu-144 mail serv ice began on December 26. 1975. Pas­senger service commenced on November 1, 1977. but was discontinued 7 months later. While this aircraft was not an operational success, the Concorde has been an operational success for the two airlines that operate this small fleet. Commercial transport at supersonic speed is a real­ity. Docs a second generation SST make sense? This chapter reviews the Concorde and U. S. SST programs, and provides die author’s own conclusion regarding the prospects for a second generation SST The readers should develop their own conclusions; this book will help them to do so.

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