The Prospects

The development of a supcrvmic transport that can be operated at a profit by the airlines, and sold in sufficicni numbers for the airframe and engine manufactures to eventually realize a profit as well, remains a challenge. The U. S and European supersonic research programs now have very focused, and somewhat different, goals. These programs involve the companies that profit from the sale of their subsonic jets. It would take some bold competitive vision, not unlike that which led to the Concorde, for a supersonic transport production program to emerge from these studies. Such an aircraft faces the real possibility that it. too. w ill be a technical success, but not ал economic one This book, therefore, focuses much of its attention on the underlying tools for the study of such aircraft, as well as on unconventional configurations.

For unconventional configurations the technical and nsk harriers arc very high. It appears that an oblique flying wing (see Chapters 19 and 20) could provide a Mach 1.4. or higher, transport that operates with a minimum surcharge over future subsonic transports and that competes with them over land as well. If it is large enough it becomes the "New Large Air­craft" and. in this sire, such an aircraft may compete in fare with its subsonic counterparts. But without further research, considerable experimentation, and flight tests, this remains a conjec­ture Such an aircraft would also require rethinking of selected aviation regulations and perhaps even some minor reconfiguration of airports. Both were required with the introduction of the Boeing 747.

A conventional configuration, operating at a higher Mach number, benefits from high productivity and substantially reduced travel times. Because of pasi and current government research programs, including that which led to the Concorde, the needed research is largely done and the technology mature. Consequently, the development costs of such an aircraft appear to be reasonable. Because of its limited subsonic and transonic performance, and its restriction to intercontinental routes, this aircraft’s market is relatively small. As a fleet, its con­tribution to the acoustic environment in and around selected airports may be small enough to deserve continued regulatory relief.

A small, corporate, supersonic transport appears to have a significant market and. if small enough, might well be certified for supersonic operation over land Military technology and excess production capacity provide the basis for making such an aircraft affordable

At a meeting on sonic boom research in 1967. Adolf Busemann. having comprehended the concept of banglcss sonic booms, concluded this meant we would have to fly in the tropo­sphere to make the sonic boom acceptable. He stood up. placed his arm over his eyes, and said: ‘This is terrible; we will have to fly through the wind, the sleet, the rain, and the snow.” Further research showed even this would not be enough Large transports will not be able to fly at super­sonic speeds over populated areas.

It may be a long time before most of us can fly twice current speeds at affordable fares And we may have to fly obliquely to do so. Before this happens, some will have travelled at Concorde speeds in corporate supersonic transports such as the proposed Sukhoi S-21.

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