The U. S. SST Program

The U. S. SST program begun in June, 1963 when President Kennedy, in a commencement speech at the Air Force Academy, said. "As a testament to our strong faith in the future of air power… I am announcing today that the United States will commit itself to an important new program in civil aviation… a plane that will move ahead at a speed faster than Mach 2. more than twice the speed of sound, to all comers of the globe ~ The day before this speech the president of Pan American World Airlines had made the announcement that Pan Am was taking options on six Concordes. Prior to thai Air France and British Airways had ordered eight Concordes each.

A few days later President Kennedy followed up his commencement address with a message to Congress in which he said, "In no event will the government investment be permitted to exceed $750 million” [81 Development costs were then estimated to be approximately $1 billion.

This program soon became one with two competitive aircraft designs, one by Lock­heed and the other by Boeing, and two competitive engine designs, one by General Electric and the other by Pratt & Whitney. Boeing and General Electric were the eventual w inners of this competition with the Boeing 2707-100, a swing wing. M * 2.7. 200-300 passenger aircraft with a presumed range of 3500 nautical miles, weighing 750.000 pounds, an aircraft that was not then – and perhaps is not now. technically realizable. The swing wing provided both airport noise reductions and improved aerodynamic performance at lower speeds The weight of the mechanism used to pivot the wings resulted in unacceptably low range, or km payload, or both. The Boeing design evolved to a fixed wing, titanium aircraft, not unlike that proposed by Lock­heed The government’s investment in the SST program was to be repaid by royalties on aircraft sales. The government’s investments, including interest, would be recovered with the delivery of the 300th aircraft.

The two principal issues of concern with SSTs in the late 1960s were their economic viability because of a likely restriction to subsonic operation over populated areas and airport noise levels upon takeoff. There was limited concern before 1970 about the effects of such air­craft on the stratosphere.

The U. S. program died in the Senate in May 1971. in part from concerns about noise in the airport environs, in part from concerns about its impact on the stratospliCTe. in part due to politics, and in pan because its economic success seemed far less than certain. Today, twenty – five years later, these remain legitimate concerns

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