Boeing is feeling supersonic

Boeing yesterday offered the region more details on its planned Sonic Cruiser airplane, which aims to deliver the, “range of a 777, and the size of a 767 with far greater speed.”

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By  David Ingham Published  November 4, 2001

Boeing was yesterday looking to whip up some regional enthusiasm for its planned Sonic Cruiser airplane. According to Boeing’s vice president of marketing, John Roundhill, the company aims to provide customers with a plane that has the, “range of a 777, and the size of a 767 with far greater speed.”

What that means is a 200-300 seat plane that can fly non-stop from London to Singapore, traveling at close to the speed of sound. That translates into an hour off the Singapore-London journey and four hours off London-Sydney (including one refueling stop.) It does all that whilst achieving the same fuel efficiency as today’s most economic planes and meeting strict environmental standards.

At the moment, the plane remains more a concept than a reality, however. The exact specifications of the Sonic Cruiser will be decided after consultations with airlines and only then will production go ahead.

For that reason, it is possible that the product may not ever come to market. Boeing says it’s confident, however, that the product does meet a very real need and that it will come to market in 2008.

Emirates Airlines, which would undoubtedly be at the top of Boeing’s regional target list has expressed an interest, but awaits more information. “There has to be more information, more statistics about costs, economics, range and capacity,” Mike Simon, corporate communications director for Emirates, told itp.net. “We’ve never said we’re not interested, we are but you can’t go any further until you know much more about it. Seattle and Dubai will continue to talk…”

Beoing currently has nothing concrete to offer on the subject of price, to the airline and to the passenger. The company talks instead of achieving the same type of economics and fuel efficiencies as on today’s two engine aircraft.

Roundhill says that passenger surveys are being carried out to determine how much people will be prepared to pay for the Sonic Cruiser’s extra speed. One scenario for the plane is that it will offer nothing but high margin first class and business seating.

The Sonic Cruiser won’t be possible, of course, without some fairly whizz bang technology. It will be built around a ‘composite and advanced alloy structure’, will use low burn engines and boasts a design that you’d expect to see in sci-fi films. It will also fly at over 40,000 feet, in order to avoid the air space congestion that is often experienced today.

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