Re: End of airliner evolution?

From: (IMacduff)
Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)
Date:         05 Nov 96 04:14:00 
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Thanks for all the responses,

Seems like I got quite a few grudging admissions that maybe airliner
technology is relatively mature and in a period of flattening evolution.
I like to look at the most ubsurd extremes when looking for the end to
technological trends, and in the case of air travel, that would be an
aircraft which after reaching the end of the departure runway, instantly
appeared at the approach end of the destination runway.  Wow!  But even
then, you'd have spent five or six hours packing; getting to the airport;
getting a boarding pass; waiting to get on; waiting to taxi; getting to
the runway etc.  At the departure end you do much of the same in reverse.
Five or six hours for an instananeous trip.  I suspect most airline trips
these days consume more of the passengers time on the ground than in the
air.  Who hasn't spent hours getting to and then on and off a 45 minute
flight?  Not so in the early days of aviation when you might have spent
eight hours or so preparing and getting on a flight that might have taken
several days to cross the country.  It's clear that as aircraft get
faster, we just spend a smaller percentage of our time in the air, and a
larger percentage getting to and from the runway.  The importance of
greater speed in the air diminishes.  For most people, the extra speed of
the Concorde is not worth the higher ticket price and lower comfort, as
subtracting three hours from what is usually a 10 hour or more ordeal just
isn't that critical to most people - traveling on the Concorde is more
likely to be perk that a necessity of time.

To end it all, orbital speed is the ultimate limit for point to point
travel on earth.  Any faster would require using precious fuel to prevent
yourself from climbing into a higher orbit and away from your destination.
 Ask Alan Shepherd - it's the only way to circle the globe - if you don't
mind pulling the G's.  The question is, can you ever make suborbital
flight as economical, safe and operationally reliable as todays good ole