You raise a good point about the security issues, William K. Every flight involves at least two extra hours on the front end and at least 30 minutes on the back -- and that's if the flight is on time. So, yes, there would defeinitely be an issue of diminishing returns if you change your Chicago-to-Detroit flight time from one hour to 15 minutes. You'd still have to waste a minimum of two-and-a-half hours at the airport.
I remember them, too, when I was a kid in the early-to-mid 1960s in Michigan. The boom was huge. I always enjoyed them in a kids-like-adventure way. But they really did rattle the windows and they were a shock to the system.
Batar is certainly correct about the cost and viability of high speed flight. And, even more important than those sad economics, is that fact that air transport is still hamstrung and slowed by our "security" people, who are a huge waste of resources and a questionable value. They have certainly been able to make airports much less enjoyable than the second day of old aArmy basic training. So if one still needs to be at the airport two hours in advance of ones flight, the advantage of turning a two hour flight into a 15 minute flight is not so great any more.
It would be far more useful to research toward development of some form of matter transmission, which could happen at nearly the speed of light. THAT would be a worthwhile increase in speed.
I recall as a kid growing up in Chicago during the Cuban Missile Crisis, supersonic defense jets would fly over Lake Michigan, rattling the windows in my second grade classroom. Sonic booms can indeed be disturbing.
Thanks for a great explanation, Bill. Actually, I'm okay with longer flight times. If it took 60 minutes to fly cross-country, I'd probably be jumping on flights every week. This way, I get to stay home more.
After reviewing this article and the several dozen comments posted, I'm surprised no-one has reacted to the Air Force's (Lack-of) Plan for recovery. To me, this is a design flaw from Square-One. If the cost of recovery exceeds the value of the development; well ,,,that speaks volumes to the cost of bureaucracy in the military today. Literally, flushing the experiment away, available for recovery by other salvaging interests. Really-?
TJ, I'm surprised you haven't gotten more responses to your post – it hits the status-quo method very hard, and airline execs would cringe in light of the truths you profess. One similar technology scenario comes immediately to mind, and how new developments attempted to overcome it.
I'm referring to the component placement process for PCBs. Conventional process, currently used in millions of manufacturing facilities world-wide, uses the well-established "Chip-Shooter" method to place components plucked from tape/reel packaging, and robotically maneuvers individually components into precise location on the PCB while held by vacuum. But most sophisticated products have literally hundreds of components on their main board, so this Chip Shooter technology, while EXTREMETLY FAST and ACCURATE, still places them one at a time .... Like passengers on a plane going thru the front port-side cabin door.
The developed counter-solution to this was GANG-Placement technology, where literally scores of T&R components were dumped (a large gang batch at a time) thru a Z-axis filter, similar to the way the solder stencil was used at the front of the line, hitting all locations simultaneously.
Several big-name electronic giants (MOT) experimented with this technology several years ago, but I think the dream remained largely UN-realized; and so today the Chip-Shooter still remains the De-Facto Standard for solder component reflow automation in the world today.
I submit that passenger seating and dis-embarking would fare much better, using the simple, obvious suggestions which you've outlined. Kudos to your common sense.
Yes, Chuck, it has stalled because of the sound barrier. If a plane exceeds the sound barrier from the West Coast to the East Coast, the sonic boom is heard across the entire nation. Everyone below hears the boom. NASA is working on eliminating the boom. That's what it would take.
There is no commercial application for this technology. The lessons from Concorde and the 747, whoch both entered service in the same period, is that there is more proft in carrying more passangers for a minimal cost than providing a high priced high speed alternative to a privileged few. So there is no way a commercial aircraft manufacturer can expect to recover R&D costs and break even. (Concorde was partly government funded). We have the technology to build mach 2 airliners, but not the incentive - so what prospect for a mach 5 version? You may also have noticed that this test vehicle can neither take off nor land - two basic pre-requisites for commercial flight.
Hi Chuck... As you know, the Bell X-1 was propelled by a rocket engine. The air-breathing supersonic engines of the Concord were "turbojet" engines, rather than the more traditional "turbofan" jet engines. The turbojet still required afterburners during takeoff and transonic transition and the combustors still needed to slow the intake air down to sub-sonic speeds. The Pratt & Whitney F119 engines used by the F-22 program provide supersonic flight without afterburner (supercruise), but only by using very expensive technology such as burn-resistant titanium alloy, integrally bladed rotors (disks and blades sculpted from a single block of alloy), and a highly-complex Full-Authority Digital Electronic Engine Control (FADEC) system. A 2009 estimate of F-22 per-copy cost is around $350 Million per plane. With a single pilot, that is $350 Million per Passenger. A Boeing 747-400 costs around $250 Million per copy and carries a maximum of 660 passengers (a paltry $380 Thousand per passenger - a 10^3 efficiency)
Until SCRAM Jet technology becomes more affordable from developments like the X-51, it looks like we will have plenty of time to appreciate the in-flight movie...
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Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.