Re: Boeing's Sonic Cruiser

Date:         04 Apr 2001 16:41:06 
From:         Thaddeus Beier <thad@hammerhead.com>
Organization: SBC Internet Services
References:   1
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Damon Hill wrote:
>
> Will it fly?  Will the airlines buy?  I hope so!  Commercial
> aircraft design has been SO boring for the past couple of
> decades.
>
> How fast WILL it go?  It already looks supersonic, with the right
> engines.
>
> http://www.boeing.com/news/feature/concept/
>
> --Damon

I really have to hand it to Boeing -- after decades
of new designs of airliners that all look more and
more the same; and are tuned to getting the most cattle
on board for the lowest possible price per seat-mile;
Boeing proposes something completely different.

The nice thing is that these planes will appeal most
to business travelers, who provide probably 90% of
the profit for airlines.  No matter how many people
you shove in an A380 -- if all of the businesspeople
are flying in a faster plane you will lose money
on the A380.  Very clever.

And Airbus can't possibly compete, now that they've
committed to building the A380.  If Boeing had made
this announcement a couple of months ago, before
Airbus committed, then they might have had a chance.

I have to say that the painting that Boeing presented
doesn't look like a transonic plane to me; it should
be visciously area-ruled, but the cross-section swells
very quickly in the front and then is constant for
a good long way, then grows again when the strakes
start.

Putting the fuel in the strakes is a great idea;
of course, Rutan has been doing that for decades
for all the same reasons.  Still, if the strakes
are going to be fat enough to carry the fuel
then you're going to have to cut down your
cross sectional area from somewhere else.

My guess is that the final design won't look too
much like the painting that Boeing has presented.

I had been hoping that they'd build a blended wing-body
plane, but I have to say that this makes much more sense.
A BWB might get you another 5 to 10% efficiency, but
it wouldn't be nearly as 'cool' as this airplane; and
I think that they'll be able to sell the 'cool' for
quite a premium.  that, and speed, of course.

thad