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Boeing's new 'sonic' airliner atracting lots of interest from airlines!

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Boeing's new 'sonic' airliner atracting lots of interest from airlines!

Old 8th Apr 2001, 12:51
  #1 (permalink)  
The Guvnor
Posts: n/a
Cool Boeing's new 'sonic' airliner atracting lots of interest from airlines!

From today's Sunday Times

<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size="2"> Airlines queue up to buy sonic jet

David Parsley

Boeing's sonic cruiser sounds death knell for Concorde

THE RACE to bring Boeing's new sonic cruiser to the skies is
on, with Emirates, the Middle East airline, leading the charge.

Emirates has told The Sunday Times that it is in negotiations
to buy up to seven of the 200m jets, which could be flying
close to the speed of sound within five years. The deal could be
worth 1.4 billion.

But Emirates is facing competition from other groups, such as
American, Continental and Singapore airlines, which are also in
talks with Boeing about ordering the jet.

Emirates said: "The sonic cruiser would certainly fit in well with
our plans for growth. It is obviously early days but we do have a
tradition of being the launch customer for innovations. We were
the first to order the Airbus A380 superjumbo and I wouldn't be
at all surprised if Emirates is the first to place a firm order for
this plane."

Boeing announced plans for the sonic cruiser late last month
after ending its attempt to build a rival to Airbus's 550-seat
superjumbo. The Seattle-based aircraft giant had offered
airlines a stretched version of its Boeing 747 - the original
jumbo jet - but carriers interested in such big planes chose the

Singapore Airlines has already ordered the A380 but it is also
talking to Boeing about the sonic cruiser. It said: "Our order of
the A380 does not preclude us from taking an interest in the
sonic cruiser. Boeing has spoken to us and we have been
invited to be part of their team to provide input into the design.
We have encouraged them to proceed. This is not a
commitment, but we would like to

see the aircraft developed. Whether we would make a
commitment to the Boeing aircraft depends on the economics.
This plane would be suited to routes with a high share of
business passengers who would pay a premium."

Don Carty, American Airlines' chief executive, has also
approached Boeing and claims his airline will beat Emirates to
place the first orders.

The excitement surrounding the sonic cruiser, which has
amazed even Boeing executives, has also filtered through to
the world's leading engine makers. Rolls-Royce said it was
talking to Boeing about the type of power the jet would need.

Meanwhile, General Electric and Pratt & Whitney are thought
to have joined forces to take on Rolls, working on a variation of
the GE90 engine to power the sonic cruiser to at least Mach

There is even talk that Rolls may be working on a supersonic
engine that solves the environmental problems of the sonic

Boeing also said it was confident of striking its first order soon
for the new jet. One executive said the group would not have
launched such a project unless it had already canvassed
opinion from its customers and received a positive response.

"We are talking to a number of our customers about design
elements of the sonic cruiser," said Boeing. "We do not
announce a project of this scale without being sure it will get off
the ground."

The company believes the sonic cruiser, which is sure to eat
into the market held by Concorde, could be flying passengers
across the world within five years. The jet will cut average
journey times by as much as 20%.

The 300-hundred seat aircraft will also allow people to fly direct
from America's east coast to the Far East.</font>
Old 8th Apr 2001, 13:19
  #2 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

This means they are going to start ground testing, flight testing, and certification in 3-4 years, I would like to see that.

Took Boeing over 10 years to get the 777 out, why will this aircraft be any different ? They had to build a 1.5B manufacturing facility to produce a new aircraft, where will this airframe be made ?

Five years to design, build, test, and certify a transport aircraft is very optimistic project management.

The A380 development has already been going for over four years, and it will not enter service until 2006.

Old 8th Apr 2001, 13:49
  #3 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

So, how many are you going to order Guv?
Old 8th Apr 2001, 16:58
  #4 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

I just wonder....

There is one little tiny detain that bothers me in the whole story. As you know, lift is provided by angle of attack (the faster the smaller, as it increases drag also), and the fact, that the shape of the wing profile forces the air to go faster over the wing than beneath it. The faster the air over the wing, the more lift you get.

So now, with todays commercial airliners, you have a difference of approx. Mach 0.10 over the wing, which means, that if you hapily toodle along todays skies with your M0.85, then the air over the wing goes at M0.95. You cannot have a supersonic airflow over your wing, as you would get an enormous amount of drag (compressibility), and possibly a compression stall. This given, Boeing now tells us, that thez can build an airliner that is able to hang in the air on a margin on Mach 0.04??? Without any problems in turbulences? And an economical fuel burn? I'd like to see that thing flying before I do anything with it...

It may well be that some airline executives love the idea, but these guys don't have to schedule it, market it, fly it and maintain it. They are the same stupid bankers as their peers in Wall Street and have fo clue about the real issues in air transport anyway.

If you hear Jurgen Weber from Lufthansa strongly supporting such an aircraft, then you can start tuning into the hymes, otherwise, don't do anything! But Mr. Weber also is a technician, not a stupid bean counter!

There's nothing like a three-holer...

[This message has been edited by Hunter58 (edited 08 April 2001).]

And I should not have to kick the bean conters so early in the morning... Edited twice for typos...

[This message has been edited by Hunter58 (edited 08 April 2001).]
Old 8th Apr 2001, 17:33
  #5 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

Super critical wings like those on the 777 already allow localized supersonic flow.

The F22 is designed to "supercruise" and all supersonic fighters don't suddenly fall out of the air as they are going through the sound barrier.

What boeing is designing is most likely a supersonic aircaft optimized to the speed just below the speed of sound. That way they don't have any high speed buffet limitations and thus no "coffin corner". The only limit, other than economics, will be making sonic booms.

I know American Ailines is really interested in it. They would love to be able to do their tranlantic flying without a 3rd crew member.

1-2 hours over a tranlantic trip is HUGE in crew costs.

Old 8th Apr 2001, 18:06
  #6 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

I know certain colleagues of mine just hate tootling along at M.78, they always tweak her up to M.80 or M.82, which is perfectly fine (except for the higher fuel burn...naughty naughty!).

My first thoughts on hearing about the sonic whatssit was of those guys...they won't be happy doing M.98 or whatever...they'll have to faff around with it to get M.99, ...and then ooppps!....we've gone supersonic...BOOOOM!!!
Old 8th Apr 2001, 18:30
  #7 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

&gt;"There is even talk that Rolls may be working on a supersonic engine that solves the environmental problems of the sonic boom." &lt;

Is this journalistic oversimplification? How would/could such an engine work, other than by perturbing the mach cone?

For Boeing to statr deliveries of a sonic cruiser in 2006-2007 suggests they may be further along in the design of this plane then they've publicly let on. I think it was Aviation Week that indicated some wind tunnel work had already been done. Might it be that the folks in Renton waited until Airbus launched the A-380 knowing the near-impossibility of Airbus developing both the 380 and a sonic cruiser analog like E-Squared at the same time?
Old 8th Apr 2001, 19:46
  #8 (permalink)  
Juliet November
Posts: n/a

Call me stupid, or just a bit slow catching up or whatever, but it's just dawned on me why Boeing has chosen to call their latest innovation for the "Sonic Cruiser" !

It'll be desinged as a supersonic aircraft, with a transsonic wing and cruise along at subsonic speeds. Am I the only one who finds this a rather cumbersome way to do it ?

Further, particularly liked the one about RR making "a supersonic engine that solves the environmental problems of the sonic boom." So now it's the engine rather than the airframE that generates the sonic boom. Very interesting point !

Anyway, hope the boys and girls in Seattle can and will make this bird fly. I don't particularly find it very pretty or even remotely sexy, nor do I belive it will cut down the total transport time significantly (any gains in cruise speeds eaten up by airport congestion / check-in times / immigration etc) and will seriously question a "20 % reduction" on transatlantic flights, which in my book is something like BRU-BOS or similar. Maybe on a LHR-JFK flight, but why clutter the image when this is clearly a marketing plot.

But it is high time they start offering something to make the opposition (Airbus) feel a little less comfortable.

Roll it out, but I'll eat my hat if it's in revenue services before 2009 at the earliest, although it is very promising indeed, as long as you belive it, that airlines are already batteling over who gets their colours on the first example to roll out of the paint shop.


Edited for typos and stuff.

[This message has been edited by Juliet November (edited 08 April 2001).]

[This message has been edited by Juliet November (edited 08 April 2001).]
Old 8th Apr 2001, 22:15
  #9 (permalink)  
Notso Fantastic
Posts: n/a

How does it get around high speed buffet then? Long time since my Aerodynamics, but isn't it intended to cruise at the maximum drag area (around the speed of sound)? Seems to me it won't be very efficient. Comments welcome!
Old 8th Apr 2001, 22:33
  #10 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

Juliet November,

I'll guess that the name "Sonic Cruiser" is a spin-off of a popular car here in the US named the "PT Cruiser" Built by Chrysler. As for the time-line I remember the first time I read about the 777 was in Avweek in 1989, and by 94 United was flying it. While this sonic cruiser seems more complex, Boeing might have a little head start in the R&D, I hope they build it! it looks like quite a machine!
Old 8th Apr 2001, 22:50
  #11 (permalink)  
Juliet November
Posts: n/a


Quite agree, hope they get it off the ground and into revenue service soonest possible. However, still have my doubts concerning the timeline here. For all it's marvels, the 777 is following the Boeing tradition of low mounted wings and podded engines in a twin-aisle fuselage.

Before Boeing can even begin the design fase one would imagine that extensive consulting will take place with any interested buyers, and reveiwing their requirements and getting the findings build into the design, so to speak. This process takes forever; I belive Airbus spent the better part of 2 years on this with the A380 and undoubtly Boeing spend a lot of time too with the B777 way back when.

The "sonic-cruiser" (B787 ?) is a radical new step forward, and the design and build of a brand new wing is no small feat. Furthermore, it will in most liklihood require a new engine, or at best a derivative of an existing one. Takes time too. Bearing in mind the novelty of the design, testing and approval should be quite rigourous which will also take time. Add it all up, and an entry into service around the end of the decade seems to me to be a good guess.

But, as said earlier, the sooner the better, although it could all be a hoax that fits in neatly with Boeings view of smaller aircraft serving smaller airports direct, rather than Airbus outlook for megajets serving congested hubs.

Over on this side of the pond the P/T Cruiser is quite popular too !

Old 9th Apr 2001, 00:27
  #12 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

And to add to it all...

They really believe there will be sufficient people who will pay more money to be 2 hours earlier in Japan to support some 500 airframes? Dream on boys, but that will NEVER happen. How many people do you find who are willing to buy a ticket at 10% more for HALF the time to cross the Atlantic? It used to be sufficient for TWO flights a day!

For any other resoning over speed and where it ends to be a commercial factor, read the following:

R.E.G.Davies; Fallacies and Fantasies of Air Transport History; 1994 Paladwr Press: ISBN 0-9626483-5-3

There's nothing like a three-holer...
Old 9th Apr 2001, 00:50
  #13 (permalink)  
Juliet November
Posts: n/a


I do belive the correct number is more like 4 return flighs per day, but that's not all.

From what I can tell, the Sonic Cruiser will be not be nearly as environmentally challenged as the Concorde, and as such will not be restricted to ocean crossing flights only. Further, the Concorde never had the legs to cross the bigger of the ponds, whereas Boeing claims a range of around 9000NM for the Sonic Cruiser.

Having longer legs and being far less noisy, especially on departure and approach, the Sonic Cruiser will be able to link city pairs which the Concorde never could. If you care to read the article, Emirates has expressed an interest. So has Singapore. And I am rather sure none of those intend it to do pondcrossers only.

And yes, there is an abundance of business travellers who would just love to spend 2 hours at an important meeting rather than being stuck in a alu-tube instead. You see, if you split these high-flyers wages up on an hourly basis, the amount will in many cases surpass the extra charge and consequently the company they are flying for will actually SAVE money ! You might as well have asked "Are there anybody out there willing to pay USD 45 Mill for a privat jet so that they can decide for themselves when to fly ?". It all boils down to the same thing: Time is money, and many people value their time at an exceedingly high amount of money.

The real bugger here is the costs for the airlines, and that I understand remains to be calculated. If fuel prices skyrocket again, it's in all likelihood dead, but at present levels and with a somewhat decent fuel economy it might just turn out to be a winner.

Then again, I'm a born optimist


[This message has been edited by Juliet November (edited 08 April 2001).]
Old 9th Apr 2001, 02:19
  #14 (permalink)  
FE Hoppy
Posts: n/a

so will the body be the old 707/727/737/757?
Old 9th Apr 2001, 03:51
  #15 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

FE Hoppy,

Supposedly a twin aisle tube, so probably more like a 767 cross-section.
Old 9th Apr 2001, 04:55
  #16 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

Sorry am I missing something in this picture ??

With MNPS and RVSM where does ATC figure in these Hi-speed crossings??

Do you go round, over or through all the "sub-sonic" clutter??
Old 9th Apr 2001, 05:26
  #17 (permalink)  
Ranger One
Posts: n/a

Tshirt said... "Do you go round, over or through all the "sub-sonic" clutter??"

Answer would appear to be 'over'... Boeing say this will cruise at FL400+

Not quite sure what to make of this... part of me wonders if this isn't an attempt by Boeing engineers to build an SST by the back door, without frightening the shareholders by using the word 'SST'... if this thing gets off the ground they're close to halfway there...

Old 9th Apr 2001, 09:12
  #18 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
Thumbs up

Boeing should be commended for their insight of the future. Current models of Airbus and Boeing are essentially 30-40 year old designs with newer avionics and more powerful/efficient engines thus only evolutionary and not revolutionary. With revolutionary ideas it takes new rules and techniques, which is often difficult to comprehend when exposed. My father witnessed an early flight of a jet during WWII and he could not believe what he had seen, and he was an aviator.

Many comments above reflect old technology and thinking. Boeing is talking about new ways to design and build aeroplanes. Super-cruise is already here in military aircraft. NASA is working on soft-boom/low-boom designs and Boeing is obviously taking a step towards supersonic travel with the Sonic-cruiser. When true super-sonic travel becomes feasible then they will have a huge advantage over Airbus (please, the Concord is not feasible or efficient).

People will want to cut 2-3 hours off their travel time and they probably won’t have to pay an extra cent for the opportunity when available. With the opening of polar routes, flight times continue to stretch the crews’ limits as airlines convert savings into extra range with routes like JFK/HGK etc. I’ll take my 2-3 hour saving thank you very much and so will other crews/passengers if they have a choice.

To all the other Aviators, keep an open mind, as the rumour of the propeller-less aircraft was true!
Old 9th Apr 2001, 12:14
  #19 (permalink)  
Kerosene Kraut
Posts: n/a

All this new engineering stuff for just one or two hours less flight time?
Couldn't this be cut easier and cheaper with more careful ground organisation like faster pax check-in, luggage-proceeding, ground ops, optimized atc etc.?
Like mentioned above: If they can handle all of these transsonic issues why not just build a true economic SST? Is this the message behind the sonic cruiser? If you can go transpacific why not cruise supersonic? This would certainly attract high-yield folks and really save time.

I'd love to see that SC become reality.
Old 9th Apr 2001, 13:00
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2001
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On the other hand, it could just be a lot of bollox to put the wind up Airbus
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