Re: End of airliner evolution?

From:         Steve Lacker <>
Organization: applied research laboratories
Date:         05 Nov 96 04:13:59 
References:   1 2
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Terrell D. Drinkard wrote:
> As for where it will lead us, who knows?  Your assertion that the basic
> design of airlines has not changed since the 707 is not accurate.

> Suffice to say that airliner design has change significantly since the days
> fo the venerable 707.  Most of changes are in ways that the average
> passenger doesn't see.  Metalurgy, glass cockpits, improved engines, better
> fatigue life, more reliable systems, lower drag airfoils, more powerful
> flap systems, the list is just endless, really.

Without defining a reference against which "change" is judged, you can argue
this point either way. Modern airliners are still jet-powered (fan instead of
pure jet, to be sure, but the pure-jet 707 was phased out realtively early on).
Most are still fly-by-cable. Most are still single-deck, although some are
multi-aisle. Passengers would comment that a 707 is a little louder than a 757,
but MOST wouldn't even notice any other significant differences.

However, put a modern 757 passenger on a Constellation or an Electra, and I
think they would notice rather quickly :-)

You are right, you can point out MANY changes from the 707 to the 757- and I
mean truly remarkable, non-trivial engineering changes. But the grand sum of
all those changes is far less than the difference between a Constellation and a
707, if you are talking about speed, dispatch reliability, maintenance hours,
TBO, etc. I think the point is, will there be a similar revolution in the next
50 years? I would guess "yes", but who knows for sure.

Stephen Lacker
Applied Research Laboratories, The University of Texas at Austin
PO Box 8029, Austin TX 78713-8029