posted on Nov, 14 2004 @ 11:36 AM
I doubt seriously if the scramjet technology will be used in commercial flight in my lifetime. Remember that my company designed two similar
aircraft; the first was the 2707-200 (which we began studying in 1952, 12 years before the FAA issued its RFP). We decided not to build it because it
wouldn't make any economical sense; the Russians went ahead with the Tu-144, which due to its propensity to kill people, ended its career carrying
cargo in Siberia. The Anglo-French Concorde actually flew and lost Air France and British Airways billions of dollars over its lifetime before being
mercifully euthanized last year.
Our more recent Sonic Cruiser died in development because of the collapsse of the airline industry after September 2001.
It might be interseting to look at new technologies which are competing for the airliners' orders today. Airbus Industrie has bet the corporate farm
on the hub-and-spoke system which envisages their A380 carrying 500 passengers to a central airport and them offloading them on smaller aircraft to
their final destination (which would not be able to handle the A380).
Boeing, on the other hand, is building the 7E7 Dreamliner, which incorporates the ability to fly long distances to just about every airport around and
much lower seat-mile costs, although it will carry much fewer passengers.
Note that neither of these airplanes is offering high speed as a selling point. The seat-mile cost of a fast plane is so high that airlines simply
won't buy them because they know they'll lose money. Neither of the two large passenger players (Boeing and Airbus Industrie) or the up-and-coming
new kid on the block (EMBRAER) is going to invest billions of dollars of non-recurring funds to build an aircraft that won't sell.