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airship's supersonic "executive jet" project - input welcome...

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airship's supersonic "executive jet" project - input welcome...

Old 5th Feb 2014, 13:36
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airship's supersonic "executive jet" project - input welcome...

Some background info...

airship is not on "1st name terms" with any of the World's 1,426 billionaires (142 US citizens, 110 Russians, 122 Chinese + rest of the World) representing US$ 5.4 trillions of disposable wealth in 2013 according to wikipedia here.

However, have had previous "face-to-face" contacts with some multi-millionaires (notably 1 "hands-on" multiple-yacht owner who piloted his own Beechcraft 200 King Air throughout Europe in the early to late '2000s). Currently dealing with several superyacht-owners "at arm's length" through their managers. One of these has an A-380 as part of his private jet fleet, another merely has an older B747 variant in addition to others.

Whatever, all previous efforts to satisfy this growing market of billionaires and their thirst for faster air travel appear not to have come to any fruition, despite many years of R&D by some well-known names.

Onwards to the project...

Like Boeing, instead of attempting to "redesign the wheel" when they found themselves confronted by the A-380, they merely adapted the existing design of the older B747. This strategy allowed a double-bonus that the new variant/s wouldn't need to be re-certified as a "completely new airplane".

Which got me thinking "out of the box" yet again, my hunches leading me to believe that there were already (military) airplanes flying which could be adapted to the role of "supersonic executive jet" with relatively minor modifications. And narrowing my choice of candidates down to just 2:

1) The Russian TUPOLEV TU-160 and variants:




2) The US Rockwell B1 and variants:




It's quite remakable how both these airplanes resemble each other. One is surely a copy of the other, but like the "chicken and the egg", which came first...?!

Get rid of the huge weapons payload capacity and the internal bomb-bays first. Add a B747-like extended "Big-top" to the superstructure, converting all this available space to carrying passengers (obviously pressurised) and I reckon airship's supersonic "executive jet" would be able to easily accommodate 8-10 passengers seated very comfortably + 1 double-bedroom (with restricted height) for the billionaire owner; fly at supersonic speeds and at heights over-land that merely lead air-traffic controllers to assume that this was just "another military flight"; with a trans-continental range at supersonic speed (not that such billionaires couldn't afford their own private fleet of IFR tankers if truly required)...

Whilst both the Boeing and Tupolev (depending on variants - the B1B has quite a disappointing max. speed of merely Mach 1.25...?!) have the potential, I've already decided that the Tupolev has the best possibilities for adaption. Add a few portholes here, replace existing heavy aluminium structures with carbon-fibre equivalents, why not look into replacing the older engines with newer more fuel-efficient ones, and HEY PRESTO?! The billionaires will have their new toys at a fraction of the price of any "brand-new supersonic executive" developed from scratch...?!

A "lick of paint here, a bit of body-filler there" (to hide the ex. USSR insignias) and airship may well have found a way to pay for his retirement and pension.
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 14:24
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A Wokka would make a change.
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 15:27
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Military supersonic aeroplanes are designed to a lower safety standard that are civil, innit.

Engine failure at M2 in a Blackbird - high chance of being fatal, despite the crew having bang seats, full harness belts, and pressure suits.

Engine failure at M2 in Concorde... None event, despite the pax being in shirt sleeved comfort, not even strapped in, and quaffing champers and fois gras.
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 16:28
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Isn't that an accusation that can also be leveled at Concorde?

Involving a period of near certain death if a particular chain of events takes place on departure, and huge running costs?
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 16:51
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If You add a hump to the B1/Tu-160 in order to gain some space for passengers, would that not require further extensive modification to maintain the area ruling intact? If so, the result would likely lose much of the originals elegance and turn into some kind of supersonic Quasimodo.

The thought of arriving in style with a heavy (if that word can be used in this context - maybe rather "large") airship... now this has some class. A LZ129 Mk. 2 built from carbon fibre instead of aluminium and thus light enough to use helium as lifting gas might not be able to replace a fast transport, but if you think of it more like a super-size yacht than an aircraft, it surely would find a buyer or two.

Well, one can dream...
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 17:01
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I know of a few billionaires and they have a predilection for inhabiting small islands where they can't land their jets and have to employ helicopters to actually get to their destination. I would have thought a jet with VTOL capability would be a sure fire winner.

Last edited by beaufort1; 5th Feb 2014 at 18:21.
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 17:18
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I would have thought a jet with VTOL capability would be a sure fire winner.
Harrier?
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 17:20
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Isn't that an accusation that can also be leveled at Concorde?

Involving a period of near certain death if a particular chain of events takes place on departure, and huge running costs?
No and No.

The 'chain of events' included many outside the design parameters of the aeroplane, such as taking off overweight, taking off downwind, overfilled fuel tanks so no air gap to absorb shocks from shredding tyres etc, main bogie parts missing, shutting down of a power-producing engine at rotation (which would also have provided hydraulic power to raise the gear). So mostly avoidable.

Running costs were higher than a subsonic. Not high enough to prevent BA from making many millions a year profit on the aeroplane for a couple of decades, however.
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 17:33
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What might make a change is perhaps that you get off your dismal steed (going by many of your other recent responses to other threads here), now and then, and instead contributing something useful, whether comic, profane or otherwise. Instead of coming across as mainly a sad, demonic has-been with nothing of consequence to add...
Houses ...... glass ......... people ........
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 17:38
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I take your point, Shaggy - Concorde had a much better record of working and not crashing than the Tu144, but in the light of what happened at Paris, and the long gap between V1 and V2 that I believe occurred twice a day at Heathrow and in Paris, perhaps the world's uber billionaires might be more prepared to take a direct flight to the antipodes in their VIP 787s and A350s rather than hop there repeatedly at higher speed?

In times of cheap oil, Concorde would probably have done better, but then again… more numbers and more flying may have lead to more accidents, and with cache and reputation as the sales points, that might not have been good for business.
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 18:03
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Concorde was probably the safest airliner ever. That's why it was so expensive - 14 years of development between signing the Anglo-French contract in 1962 (and SST work had commenced even before that) and commercial service in 1976.

27 years of service, one accident. But it was a complex and high performance aeroplane with 1970s systems, so it was intolerant of sloppy operation. There's no way the BA fleet should have been grounded after the Paris accident. Politics, I'm afraid. The French held an ace card in form of Airbus being the design authority, of course.
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 18:17
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27 years, yes, but how many total flights? 400 aircraft years, with a few hundred flights per aircraft per year?

It's a very impressive machine (especially for the 1960s), but that's not a per flight accident rate that looks good today, even giving another factor of 10 for bad choices on the day to line up the holes more easily.

How does it compare with a Global whatever?
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 18:32
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that's not a per flight accident rate that looks good today
With an original fleet size of 14 aeroplanes, before Paris it had 100% safe record. After Paris, a loss rate of 1 in 14 looks awful. That's statistics for you.

To be fair to the aeroplane, I'd go as far as to say only the way BA operated it should be considered. A 7 aeroplane BA fleet with a 100% good safety record in 27 years of operations. Pretty good for what's essentially a 1960s design of such exceptional performance.

Concorde did M2 for 4.5 hours in perfect pax comfort. Compare that to Mil aeroplanes. And imagine what we could do today with modern avionics, engines, and structures (composites).

Oh, and nothing man-made has ever looked as beautiful.

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Old 5th Feb 2014, 18:32
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Did I read somewhere that some of these space tourism vehicles such as the Virgin jobber were being considered for use for intercontinental transport - a kind of exo-atmospheric bizjet? I also recall some years back US bizjet maker had teamed with a Russian mil airframer (Sukhoi?) to put the bones of a design together for a supersonic bizjet.

I know of a few billionaires and they have a predilection for inhabiting small islands where they can't land their jets
I thought it was operating supersonic jets off postage stamp sized strips was old hat? Steam (or rail gun) catapult, arrestor wire - et voila!
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 18:35
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And imagine what we could do today with modern avionics, engines, and structures
How hard would it be to simply re-manufacture Concorde, a tried and tested design? I'm sure the plans are around gathering dust in a filing cabinet somewhere in Filton.
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 18:43
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Although a modern 'Concorde' would be almost identical in shape to the original (they got it right!) it really needs to be bigger than the 100 seats it offered (albeit at a very generous seat pitch!).

However, in view of environmental considerations and the ongoing sonic boom problem limiting routes, I wonder if supersonic airliners are the way to go in future? HOTOL, anyone?
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 18:55
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Lovely photo, SSD. As they say, if it look's right it'll fly right. And it did both in spades. How much area-ruling was used, do you know?

HOTOL might one day make a reappearance in a different format, I think.

Russ.
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 19:02
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On Concorde, area rule rules! It was essential to minimise wave drag.

The nose begins as a needle pitot / static system and gradually opens out to full fuselage diameter.

The wings start just behind the front door as mere ridges in the fuselage side and gradually open out to full span.

The fin rises a bit more abruptly from the cabin roof, but where it does the cabin is 'waisted' to compensate.

It is absolutely stunningly beautiful. And not a stylist's line anywhere on it. It's pure 'form following function', which is why it hasn't dated.
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 19:50
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HOTOL is now Skylon.

But if Concorde was a bit loud, expensive and nerve wracking on its wheels at 200 knots, wait until you see a Skylon leave the ground.
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Old 5th Feb 2014, 20:56
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Stick the passengers in the fairing, they'll get a better view.
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