Mass media turn to history and evaluate the prospects of supersonic flights

Mass media turn to history and evaluate the prospects of supersonic flights

The crew that made the first flight of Concorde

On October 24, 2003, the last passenger flight of the Concorde supersonic aircraft took place. Publications celebrate the 20th anniversary of this event: The Verge revives a 2016 publication where a journalist recalled the unusual atmosphere on board; The Independent returns to the question of whether we will see a return to supersonic flight in civil aviation.

The Italian edition of Wired once again briefly tells the story of Concorde, not forgetting to mention the rivalry with the Tupolev design bureau. The publication draws attention to the fact that formally the last Concorde flight took place on November 26, 2003. It was symbolic, with a short London-Bristol route and no passengers.

The Independent recalls that Concorde flights were grounded due to several factors: high fuel prices, low consumer demand and safety concerns following the 2000 Paris disaster that killed 113 people. Since that time, several companies have been developing high-speed aircraft of a new generation, but, according to the publication, Boom Supersonic came closest to realizing the project. The company claimed that its Overture aircraft would fly at a speed of Mach 1.7 (at a cruising altitude of about 1,690 km/h). This is less than Concorde’s top speed (2,179 km/h), but twice as fast as conventional subsonic aircraft.

The flight range of Overture should reach 7,866 km. This is enough to open up to 600 potentially feasible and profitable routes for Boom. For example, London – Miami (7121 km) or Seoul – Honolulu (7366 km). Most flights will take place over water: over land, the sonic boom created by breaking the sound barrier would be unacceptable. Not only will the Overture be slightly slower than the Concorde, it will also be smaller. The maximum passenger capacity will be 80 people instead of 100 people.

In 2017, the company announced that it would start operating regular flights by 2023. Then the terms were moved to 2029. Boom’s order book currently “numbers 130 aircraft,” including pre-orders from major airlines such as United Airlines, American Airlines and Japan Airlines.

Rhys Jones from the headforpoints.com website commented on Overture’s prospects for the Independent: he believes that its creators have huge technological and environmental barriers to overcome. Today, airlines are trying to optimize fuel costs; many of them commit to zero emissions by 2050. “If the Overture requires twice as much fuel per passenger mile as a subsonic aircraft, perhaps that fuel is better used on a regular jet, where it can carry not one, but two people the same distance.”

Other publications dedicated to Concorde today include the Daily Mail’s retrospective. It is addressed to a mass audience, but is interesting with archival photos and a list of all the aircraft that have survived to this day, indicating their locations.

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