Re: A fascinating tidbit from Boeing

Date:         04 Apr 2001 16:41:08 
From: (Jonathan Thornburg)
Organization: Universitaet Wien (Vienna, Austria) / Institut fuer Theoretische Physik
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In article <airliners.2001.90@ditka.Chicago.COM>,
Robert H. Nielsen <> wrote:
>Check out this link to a story about a Boeing design for a high-subsonic
>Wouldn't his give the A380 market a case of the fits!

Not really, they target different market segments:  A "fastjet" only
matters on long-range flights (otherwise the travel time isn't significantly
different).  A large part of the airliner market is short- and medium-
-range.  And a small plane (100-150 seats) only makes sense for relativly
"thin" routes (low number of passengers/week).

The operating costs are a big
>  Operating costs would not be
>  all that different from similar-sized airplanes,'' Callan continued.

In other words [translating from PR-speak to engineer/accountant-speak],
they'd be a bit higher than competing airplanes (whether Boeing or Airbus).
This looks like a product aimed at a (admittedly very lucrative) niche
market, basically long-range 1st/business-class travellers on "thin"
routes who care more about travel time than ticket price.  I don't think
anything but the absolute lowest operating costs (--> ticket prices) is
going to win over the cattle-class travellers who (continue to) account
for most of the seat-miles flown.

Maybe Boeing can pull this off, but as the Concorde experience has
shown, "premium" jets are a tough sell.  [Concorde  makes an operating
profit... but with only 10ish airplanes sold to only 2 airlines, it
was a huge money-loser if you count the R&D costs.  Boeing abandoned
its 2707 SST project when Uncle Sam (the Nixon administration) refused
to subsidize its costs.]

[The Convair 990 was another failed "premium" jet, but that was more
a technical botch: the manufacturer promised the C990's high cruise speed
before a prototype flew, but the actual hardware didn't deliver, so the
airline orders disappeared.  I suspect computers + wind-tunnel tests are
good enough today that Boeing could indeed deliver what their engineers
say thy could.]

>  ``The jet would use more fuel, but it could offer airlines savings in
>  the form of better crew and asset utilization.''

This means that this project represents an
even-greater-than-usual-for-airliner-projects gamble on future oil
prices.  I'm sure they've thought of this, but if I owned Boeing stock,
I'd be a bit nervous about trying to 2nd-guess OPEC this way...

-- Jonathan Thornburg <>
   Universitaet Wien (Vienna, Austria) / Institut fuer Theoretische Physik
    "When you find that your views match [those of] the majority, it's
     time to pause and reflect."  -- Samuel L. Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain