By Dan Nosowitz
Posting in Aerospace
One of the Concorde's biggest problems was the supersonic boom it created due to its speed. Two new designs hope to defeat--or at least lessen--the noise.
Two of the biggest names in aerospace, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, have both submitted designs to NASA for possible supersonic jets--like the Concorde, but without the noise.
The designs are not entirely dissimilar from the Concorde, with very long and narrow bodies and possibly a dipped nose, but also have a few key differences the designers and engineers hope will lessen the supersonic boom the Concorde created.
The Concorde's supersonic boom was created when the shock wave from the plane's high speed collided with the ground. It was so loud that the Concorde was actually forbidden from flying over land in the continental United States, with rare exceptions.
Designers and engineers have been working for years on a solution to this problem. Both the Boeing and Lockheed Martin designs place the engines on top of the wing, rather than underneath, hoping that the wing itself will reduce the volume of the boom. Lockheed Martin also has an odd, inverted-V-shaped tail that might lessen the boom through airflow control.
Interested? Read more about NASA's efforts to reduce the sonic boom of supersonic jets on the agency's website.
Jul 1, 2010
Friction heating was a giant obstacle for the Concorde, which literally grew over half-a-foot in length during a typical supersonic crossing. The SR-71 Blackbird was literally milled out of solid pieces of titanium (mostly procured from Russia, ironically enough) and other exotic alloys to withstand the heat involved. There's no question that the per/seat construction costs of this plane would be an order of magnitude greater than what the amortized revenue would likely be compared with conventional airframe construction.
@JohnMcGrew In addition to the fuel costs you also have the airframe costs. Subsonic aircraft can use aluminum to build the airframe. I've read that the heat load from atmospheric drag at supersonic speeds is beyond what aluminum can withstand. A while back there was an attempt to see if it was possible to build a next generation SST, and they couldn't bring down the airframe costs enough keep the ticket costs in the price range that most of the traveling public was willing to pay. As you observed, they haven't yet found a way to make a cost effective SST.
...but the laws of physics and economics have not. If there was such an obvious profit to be made, don't you think that the airlines would be begging, and Boeing and Airbus would be falling over themselves to be building this on their own?
I hope they can produce it and can make a profit. Have taken many many trips overseas and I'd love to cut the travel time by half. However......there are several comments regarding the Concord and the B58.......planes incorporating 1950's and 1960's technology. Please get out the hole that you must live in and enter the 21st century. I CANNOT COMPARE TODAYS ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY TO THAT OF 50 YEARS AGO. Then there the green people.....more noise in the background. They are really a pain in the neck. Probably the same group that is pushing cap and trade.......which will injure an already faltering economy. If the plane can make a profit, so it shall be. Those complainers don't know any more about the planes capabilities than I do. Any technical elites got any specs for me to review. Please post them. Plus the doubters and complainers are just not savvy enough to realize this technology will help the U.S. to maintain our leading role in aircraft technology and innovation.
...the US had its own version of a supersonic airliner under development at the same time as the Concorde. Boeing had gone as far as to place orders for many of the materials that would have been required. Fortunately for US taxpayers, the project was canned when it became obvious to everyone involved that the project would never be profitable. Yes, there will always be a certain number of people who will be willing to pay 5-figure fares to get somewhere really fast. Unfortunately, they will not likely ever be enough of them to justify the kind of costs (dozens to hundreds of billions) required to develop, produce, and deploy such an airliner.
The reality of Concorde was that it was banned essentially for Not Invented Here reasons. It could not make money without Continental US flights, which would have made absurd amounts of money. Europe did not anticipate US ambivalence, and so lost money. Any made is USA solution which can "demonstrate" even marginally less annoyance will gain approval in a New York minute. This was never a technology battle, but a political and marketing war that the Europeans did not realize (until too late) that they were fighting.
Mr. McGrew has it just right. We HAD a supersonic bomber, the B-58 - it was uneconomical and had a very short service lifetime. The SR-71 was a beautiful airplane, an incredible vehicle. Flew faster and higher than anyone would admit. We just didn't need it and its operating expense.
Speed, Speed, and more Speed - it?s all about workforce productivity. Most business people would gladly trade fuel and money for time! Cut the travel time to Asia-Pac and EMEA in half and watch business productivity increase! On a related note on the other end of the spectrum we should be seeing a resurgence in the use of dirigibles as lighter-than-air transports could easily reduce the cost of medium and long-haul traffic at the continental level. These could significantly reduce fuel/CO2 costs associated with heavy/bulky load transportation especially for items that are not time sensitive.
DARPA & the Air Force are in the early stages of designing a hypersonic aircraft for use as a bomber. (I forget the name of the project but Global Strike is in their somewhere) It will be absurdly expensive, of course, but if the tech becomes a reality it will be good to find more peaceful uses for it. Although flights will likely be beyond the budgets of the middle class, there are many wealthy people. If you've ever experienced the joys of a trans-Pacific or West Coast to Europe flight, you appreciate the need for a faster means of transport.
...the amount of fuel it takes to go supersonic, and the cost of operating such a vehicle in an industry that is defined by the cost of a seat/mile. The Concorde, although unquestionably a technical achievement was a financial disaster for the European taxpayer. Eventually, the airplanes were literally given away to Air France and British Airways. And even then, they never made any money with them. In the end, they were little more than expensive showpieces for the very well-to-do and celebrities to enjoy at taxpayer expense.