back to article Concorde without the cacophony: NASA thinks it's cracked quiet supersonic flight

NASA says the preliminary design review of its Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) project suggests it is possible to create a supersonic aircraft that doesn't produce a sonic boom. We've been able to build supersonic passenger planes for decades, but they're tricky things. Russia's Tupolev Tu-144 proved highly unreliable. …

  1. Rich 11 Silver badge

    and fly it over American cities and towns to hear how much noise it makes

    Wouldn't it make more sense to fly it over Kansas cornfields first? They're still going to need audio gear on the ground to pick out its footprint, and buildings are just going to get in the way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I agree with Rich 11; the almost constant gunfire in most US cities would drown out even Concorde.

      I cannot think of a suitable icon for this post.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        the almost constant gunfire in most US cities would drown out even Concorde.

        My son just observed that's also why events like 100m races need their own stadium, otherwise the athletes can't tell the starting pistol from the rest..

        :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        American cities

        Yes, the knives in your cities are much quieter...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: American cities

          Yes, the knives in your cities are much quieter

          Ditto for the acid attacks...except for the screaming, of course.

    2. Jon 37

      I'm sure they'll fly it over somewhere deserted first - not least because they need to get confidence that it won't crash into the city! They will also want to measure enough to ensure that the sonic boom/thump is not going to break glass or do other damage. There are lots of windows in a city and breaking even a few percent of them would be very very expensive!

      But once they've done that, the real goal has to be to get public support for supersonic travel. To do that they'll want to demonstrate the "sonic thump" to people, by flying over them, so people know what it sounds like and don't have the fear of the unknown that was a problem for Concorde. They will also want to be able to say to regulators and the press that they have really flown over real US cities without problems (no broken glass, no excessive complaints, etc).

      Also note that the impact of a sonic boom on a city is going to be different from a cornfield - there are buildings to block or reflect the sound, and there's a higher level of background noise.

      1. Patrician

        ...."But once they've done that, the real goal has to be to get public support for supersonic travel. To do that they'll want to demonstrate the "sonic thump" to people, by flying over them, so people know what it sounds like and don't have the fear of the unknown that was a problem for Concorde."...

        The only reason Concorde wasn't certified to fly over the mainland United States is because it wasn't built by an American company; had it been built by Boeing or MacDonald Douglas it would have had no trouble getting cerification.

        1. Dazed and Confused
          Happy

          Not invented here syndrome

          The only reason Concorde wasn't certified to fly over the mainland United States is because it wasn't built by an American company

          and of course the only reason it got to fly into Washington at all was that despite of

          Even when flying below the speed of sound, it was often noisier than always-subsonic aircraft

          It was quieter than the President's jet, so they couldn't ban it without also banning El'Presidenty

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not invented here syndrome

            "It was quieter than the President's jet, so they couldn't ban it without also banning El'Presidenty"

            Well, that's certainly within the realms of possibility. The original article states:

            "Even when flying below the speed of sound, it was often noisier than always-subsonic aircraft and generated plenty of complaints around airports, [...]"

            Noise complaints were certainly made about Concorde, yes - but the truth is that Concorde wasn't a serious noise problem on take off or landing when it first came into service: Concorde proved itself quieter than much of the subsonic competition.

            The thing about airliners back when Concorde came into service is that an awful lot of them were very noisy. Notwithstanding that, the Concorde people knew perfectly well that they were going to have an issue with noise, so they developed methods of managing speed, altitude, and throttle on take-off and landing to mitigate the noise experienced by populations on the ground near airports.

            The procedures are described in the Concorde Haynes manual, pages 113 and 114, if you want to read up on it.

            The result was that Concorde was, as far as airport neighbours were concerned, quieter than many airliners when it came into service. The Haynes book says in the context of take off:

            "Concorde was [...] quieter, certainly, than a number of aircraft then in service including the [Boeing] 707 and 727"

            The Wikipedia Concorde article states:

            "In 1971, BAC's technical director was quoted as saying, "It is certain on present evidence and calculations that in the airport context, production Concordes will be no worse than aircraft now in service and will in fact be better than many of them."

            "In spite of complaints about noise, the noise report noted that Air Force One, at the time a Boeing VC-137 [derived from the Boeing 707], was louder than Concorde at subsonic speeds and during take-off and landing [...]"

            Of course, once Concorde operations proved quieter than typical subsonic airliner operations near airports at least (there's not much you can say to excuse the sonic boom), the subsonic laddies had to follow suit and aim for lower noise themselves - first by adapting Concorde's reduced noise departure and landing procedures, and then by developing inherently quieter designs; so by the time Concorde left service, it was indeed comparatively noisy on take off and landing - but it was never as bad as its harshest critics claimed.

            The Haynes book says "One result of the Concorde noise abatement procedure was that other aircraft were forced to tighten up theirs, because ours was producing less noise. Therefore, Concorde made New York a little quieter!"

            1. Pristine Audio

              Re: Not invented here syndrome

              When Concorde flew overhead you knew it was Concorde - certainly by the 1990s it was much, much louder than anything else in the sky as it descended over SE London on its way to Heathrow. It was a regular sight when I lived there and sounded like a real monster. Nothing else came close.

              Now I live in rural France. Occasionally French air force jets have flown over at supersonic speeds. You know they're supersonic because the impact on the house, while it's never broken windows, feels like an oil tanker must have crashed into the living room at speed. It's truly terrifying.

            2. Mooseman Bronze badge

              Re: Not invented here syndrome

              "Concorde was [...] quieter, certainly, than a number of aircraft then in service including the [Boeing] 707 and 727"

              I can vouch for the racket a 707 made, we used to fly them with DHL in the cargo variant. Boy, were they loud on take off.

        2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

          The only reason Concorde wasn't certified to fly over the mainland United States is because it wasn't built by an American company

          WTF? Many US airlines fly planes from Airbus, Embraer, Bombardier, etc.

    3. brucedenney

      Maybe they don't care if it is noisy out of cities because few people live there, it is about the relative sound of it in a city with lots of background noise that will determine if it is politically tolerable.

    4. cray74

      Wouldn't it make more sense to fly it over Kansas cornfields first?

      A supersonic test over inhabited areas is done less for the physics and more to quantify the legal aspects of the aircraft, i.e., how many lawsuits and insurance claims a "sonic thump" generates. See Operation Bongo II, a 1964 equivalent test series.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Let's just hope....

    ...you never have to land that by eyes only.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Let's just hope....

      That's what I thought. I don't wish to be personal, but your aeroplane has a big nose. A really honking great hooter. A positively protuberant proboscis.

      Why it almost reminds me of this kids TV classic.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "but your aeroplane has a big nose. "

        True.

        But possibly worse, it seems to have a very little fuselage, where they put most of the payload in passenger jets.

        As in "The load that pays."

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: "but your aeroplane has a big nose. "

          Do you mean the self-loading cargo?

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Unhappy

            "Do you mean the self-loading cargo?"

            Yes.

            The downside of such cargo is that it places a minimum size on the whole vehicle, and with that form factor it's going to be biiiig.

            Concorde, at 100 seats, was finally accepted by the French as the minimum size for an SST. Most people who've looked at this since have said you need at least 300 passengers (plus baggage) to make this viable. You also need a minimum range from day one of roughly Frankfurt to New York.

            One interesting idea is that the maximum use temperature of plastics has been gradually rising. In principle CFC would be viable up to about 250C today. Likewise stainless steel could be an option up to 300c with laser welding or diffusion bonding.

      2. The elephant in the room
        Joke

        "but your aeroplane has a big nose. "

        But how does it smell?

        1. Pedigree-Pete
          Coat

          Re: "but your aeroplane has a big nose. "

          Before anyone else does....

          But how does it smell?

          Awful. BOOM..BOOM.

          Yeh. I'm going.

    3. h4rm0ny

      Re: Let's just hope....

      By the time this actually gets off the ground, I wouldn't think it would be flown by humans at all! Turn around time on a new commercial airliner can be a couple of decades. The Airbus A380 took first flight in 2005. Design began seventeen years before in 1988. And we've still only built about two-hundred of them.

      This isn't even an actual plane design, is it? If a real plane based on these ideas launches in 2037, I can well imagine you wont need a pilot at all let alone need to fly it visually!

    4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Let's just hope....

      Concorde could dip the nose down so the pilot could see the ground during landing. Does anyone know why they didn't add a window near the pilot's feet?

      (This project hit the news over a year ago. It probably started well before that so a chunk of development time has already happened.)

  3. jake Silver badge

    Next, apply the technology to ...

    ... bullets. Supersonic suppressed rounds ... I'm absolutely certain somebody(s) will pay out the nose for that kind of "stealth" technology. SSKs probably already working on it ...

    1. Named coward

      Re: Next, apply the technology to ...

      The main noise coming from a gun is that of the propellant gases expanding

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Next, apply the technology to ...

        When you are under effective enemy fire, you hear ' crack thump' the crack is the sonic boom of the round, the thump is the discharge catchinh up.

        You only hear the crack of the shockwave when the fire is pretty much comi g straight at you.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Next, apply the technology to ...

          Depends on the bullet. Pistol rounds, for example, rarely go supersonic. Military and rifle rounds, yes, though.

          1. Mad Hacker

            Re: Next, apply the technology to ...

            Not true. My standard 9mm ammo goes supersonic. If you want to use a suppressor and have it do any good you need to buy subsonic ammo.

            1. fnj

              Re: Next, apply the technology to ...

              @MadHacker - the muzzle velocity of the iconic handgun - the Browning M1911 - is only 825 ft/s, well below supersonic.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Next, apply the technology to ...

                @fnj

                "@MadHacker - the muzzle velocity of the iconic handgun - the Browning M1911 - is only 825 ft/s, well below supersonic."

                But 825 < 761 ?

                1. W4YBO

                  Re: Next, apply the technology to ...

                  "But 825 < 761 ?"

                  Feet per second, not miles per hour.

          2. W4YBO

            Re: Next, apply the technology to ...

            I practice in my back yard with subsonic .22s, and .45ACP. However, nearly all ammunition is supersonic unless specifically loaded as subsonic. Even using Remington Subsonic ammo (1050 fps), fired from a 24 inch barrel, you'll hear the supersonic (1100+ fps) crack on occasion.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Next, apply the technology to ...... bullets.

      Actually IIRC the very early work on development shaping was done using bullets.

      Essentially firing differently shaped bullets to get a rough idea of what (at the same mass) sounded quieter.

      Obviously you needed a reload bench to do this but that's still pretty cheap compared to a supersonic wind tunnel.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Next, apply the technology to ...... bullets.

        Must be a b*tch to crimp a cartridge around a plane shaped bullet, though.

        :)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Next, apply the technology to ...... bullets.

          Not a bitch, it's pretty easy actually. See: sabot.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey...

    They should do a tie-in with Reaction Engines:- bolt on a couple of their Sabre engines, and you've got a very high speed, very high altitude passenger jet, which will hopefully be allowed to cross above most major land masses and therefore link all major airports. No need to go orbital. The US and UK could come to an agreement on sharing the engineering work. We'll have to call the jet something like "arrangement", or "treaty"...

    1. Unep Eurobats
      Go

      Re: Hey...

      'Special relationship' or SpeshRel 1.

      (In the artist's impression it does look a little like one aircraft is being mounted by another.)

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Hey...

      Look further. Up and back.

      Ben Bova, Asimov, Clarke, Lemm had this figured out.

      Increasing the speed of an aircraft is diminishing returns. The true solution for high speed travel beyond 3000 km or thereabouts is going ballistic via suborbital trajectory.

      The main issue there is not so much technology. Wwe are going in that direction with Space X and ReactionEngines and will be there in a couple of decades well before quiet supersonic aircraft is productized. It is the fact that with the current level of paranoya and militarization nobody will allow you to lob a payload the size of an airliner cabin on a ballistic suborbital trajectory to LA, NY, Moscow or Berlin.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "nobody will allow..a payload the size of an airliner..on a ballistic suborbital trajectory"

        True.

        Even reusable first stages are problematical.

  5. aui
    Holmes

    Concorde: "Even when flying below the speed of sound, it was often noisier than always-subsonic aircraft"

    I thought this was due to the military-grade engines rather than the airframe shape.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Engines

      More precisely it was due to the use of reheat for take-off (or "afterburners" as the Yanks call it) which is normally only used by the military since (1) it is fuel-inefficient and (2) it is damn noisy.

      More detailed reason is you get more thrust from heating the existing mass-flow of engine exhaust to increase the speed and hence the momentum-rate. Down side is noise is approximately related to the 8th power of exhaust speed so 25% extra thrust comes with about 6000% extra noise.

      A major reason why most modern aircraft are cheaper to fly and quieter is the use of the wide "high bypass" engines where much of the thrust comes from a large volume of air at lower speed from the part that goes past the actual engine.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. collinsl

        Re: Engines

        Well what about the famous "crackle" on landing, that Jeremy Clarkson once described as "drowning out the second and fourth item on the 6 o'clock news" every night?

      3. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Engines

        I seem to recall an announcement from the flight deck prior to the afterburners being turned off lest the passengers be panicked into thinking the engines had failed owing to the sudden drop in the noise level.

        1. 尼尔

          Re: Engines

          The first day I flew, in December 1960, the second leg was on a BOAC Comet 4 from Heathrow to Zurich and they made a similar announcement about a sudden drop in engine noise that would occur just after take off. But nothing to do with supersonic flight of course!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Engines

        "high bypass" engines where much of the thrust comes from a large volume of air at lower speed from the part that goes past the actual engine

        They'll have a huge challenge making supersonic capable engines anything near compliant with current noise rules for aircraft design. As proven by Concorde, there's a small, high wealth customer base willing to pay the high fuel and operating cost of an SST, but I suspect that there's no economic case when the development costs are combined with the small passenger numbers. And because fuel consumption and costs will always be high, it will be impossible to take the technology into the mainstream, and then recover development costs across a much greater production volume.

        Sadly, I think this is a rich man's toy, and it is sad to see NASA wanting to spend taxpayer's money on a technology that will only ever benefit the ultra wealthy. Britain and France did this, and funnily enough seem in no hurry to repeat the adventure. If Boeing (or Musk, or Branson) wanted to develop their own aircraft at their own risk and cost, that's different. Evidently NASA haven't realised that The UK and France don't appear to be in a hurry to repeat the experiment.

        1. Equals42

          Re: Engines

          I disagree that they wouldn't take a chance. The A380 has lost money on every unit. It may break even per unit but the total program is a huge loss. The 787 is $33 billion in the hole so far. Taking a chance on an innovative plane that addresses an untapped market (getting somewhere a hell of a lot faster) might be interesting to Boeing and Airbus since other than 737s and A320s they haven't a lot of new ideas in the pipe. [The 797 is simply a 757/767 replacement that has a narrow market segment with 737 MAX10 and A321 encroaching in the medium single aisle category and 787, et al right above it in wide body.]

          They both need a new winner.

      5. Chz

        Re: Engines

        Your points about reheat are true, but it was still a noisy bugger without it. I remember it sitting in the Heathrow queue a few times (normally they had priority, but sometimes they got stuck in it) over south London. From Hyde Park it was still loud enough to make everyone notice.

      6. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Engines

        "A major reason why most modern aircraft are cheaper to fly and quieter is the use of the wide "high bypass" engines where much of the thrust comes from a large volume of air at lower speed from the part that goes past the actual engine."

        Yes, it will be tough to fit high bypass with large frontal intake into a slippery supersonic shape, I think Concorde Olympus was pure turbojet.

        The subsonic noise of Concorde during take off and climb went on for a while and is a greater problem than the very quick b-boom from the supersonic pressure wave.

        So fixing the boom is only part of the problem, if the aircraft must maintain a slippery shape.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          " it will be tough to fit high bypass with large frontal intake into a slippery supersonic shape"

          True.

          Concorde's noise issues were partly about history. I don't think they expected it would take as long to enter service as it did or that the noise regs would shift as far as they did.

          BTW the 17th Concorde onward was planned to be a "block upgrade" using information collected from flight data. Improvements to details aerodynamics (things like wing tips and leading edges, rather than wholesale changes to the planform or wing profile). The goal was to eliminate reheat entirely during both climb and push through transonic IE about M0.9-M1.1. People often forget that Concorde was a "super cruise" aircraft long before the F22, F35 or Typhoon.

          That was possible with the technology of the mid 1970's including the 13 "computers," both analogue and digital, running each engine, along with its associate inlet and exhaust).

          You're right that AFAIK there are no large pure turbojet engines left. All are in fact low bypass ratio turbo fans (c 1.1 to 1.2x the core turbojet flow).

          The joker in the pack is that the operating temperature of the front fan can be extended by cooling the intake airflow with a precooler. Unfortunately that would mean switching to a cold fuel, like Methane or in extreme cases LH2. This is exactly the technology Reaction Engines have been developing and were partly funded by the EU for the LAPCAT I and II programmes, except operating up to M5.

      7. Mike Flugennock

        Re: Engines

        As a teenager in the '70s, I lived in western Fairfax County, Virginia, less than 15 minutes' drive from Dulles International, where the British Airways (then BOAC) and Air France flew their Concorde service in our area. Depending on the outbound flight path, the accelerating Concorde -- though subsonic -- was louder than pretty much anything else flying in and out of Dulles back then, even the L1011's.

        If takeoffs were routed westward, over what was then entirely farmland west of the airport, it wasn't that bad, but eastward-routed takeoffs heading pretty much straight over US Rte 50 had a high-midrange kind of shriek, almost like the sound of somebody ripping cloth, only much louder, right in that most annoying range of hearing.

        Oddly enough, 747's were among the quietest planes to fly over our neighborhood, either approaching or taking off.

      8. pavel.petrman Bronze badge

        Re: Engines

        The problem is you can't build a high bypass furbofan for supersonic speed, it wouldn't work. Economies of scale have worked well for subsonic air travel, but it would take much time and effort to get the same development effort for quiet and efficient supersonic engines to, erm, get off the ground.

      9. ChrisBedford

        Re: Engines

        Exactly, there are two completely separate factors at play here: the supersonic bang (which on the NY-London route AFAIK always took place well out to sea) and engine noise. The article is written as if these were one and the same.

        A major reason why most modern aircraft are cheaper to fly and quieter is the use of the wide "high bypass" engines

        In other words Turbofans as opposed to turbojets I believe? Something like that, I read once a hundred years ago that there about 7 distinctly different "jet" engine designs but I couldn't be bothered looking them up now. Anyhow this can be seen in the shorter, fatter engine nacelles of modern airliners compared to the more pencil-like engines of the 70's aircraft. The problem with Concorde was you couldn't bolt bigger engine housings on the wings - they were enclosed in a box under the body where I guess there just wasn't any room for big fat engines and modifying that housing would have changed the a/c design too radically to keep its type certificate.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Every time I saw Concorde fly, it sent shivers down my spine, the most beautiful aircraft I have ever seen.

      It's military sister Vulcan was an emotional experience too, some years ago I was working on the flightside at Biggin Hill airshow, the Vulcan flew over so low I could feel the jetwash and smell it. My ears were ringing for a couple of hours after that.

      1. Chris Evans

        "Every time I saw Concorde fly, it sent shivers down my spine, the most beautiful aircraft I have ever seen."

        I agree, seeing it flying was mesmerising. I was in the grounds of Windsor Castle with my family twenty years ago when Concorde flew over, whilst routed to the spot admiring it I happened to look down, everyone had stopped walking and were gazing skywards:-)

      2. Mike Flugennock

        Oh, yeah, it WAS gorgeous, wasn't it?

        See my comment above on Concorde takeoffs from IAD over our neighborhood.

        You literally couldn't talk to someone next to you when one of them was taking off from IAD, but yeah, man, they really looked sweet, didn't they?

    3. Chika
      Trollface

      Not sure about that. Was it not really because of the noise of the pro-Merkin anti-competitive rhetoric during the early days of the Conk?

    4. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: Engines

      It's also not true that it was significantly louder than always-subsonic aircraft. Until the fan-jets came along Concorde's aggressive climb profile meant that, by the time it crossed Windsor, it was considerably quieter than, say, a BAC 1-11 or VC-10.

      It was only with the widespread adoption of the "Whisper Jets" (L-1011 Tristar and beyond) that the noise became significantly louder.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Concorde's engines

      "I thought this was due to the military-grade engines rather than the airframe shape."

      Concorde's engines were certainly derived from a turbojet originally developed with military applications in mind, but there was a huge gap between the subsonic Olympus models used by the RAF and what was developed for Concorde.

      It says here in the Concorde Haynes manual:

      "But the final evolution, the Olympus 593-610, had only its genes in common with its subsonic (and RAF) cousins. Initially, the model 22R engine earmarked for the RAF's BAC TSR2 was chosen. [stuff about fancy alloys and performance envelope]"

      "It was during this period that then 593 line in the Olympus family tree began [...] Olympus 593D [...] "D" for Derivative, i.e., and engine derived from the 22R, benchtested to 28,800 lbs thrust, the highest power ever achieved by a turbojet anywhere in the world at that time"

      "The 593 gained 2.5 inches in diameter and 10 inches in length to accommodate larger compressors and turbines: it was designated 593B, where suffix "B" stood for Big! and big it was, being bench-run to 32,800 lbs thrust without reheat [...] big enough to have 41,000 lbs pencilled in for the "B" model aircraft and beyond"

      There's an awful lot more on the engines - one notable improvement that Concorde's engines got was a vastly improved combustion stage compared to earlier (military) Olympus engines which pretty much eliminated the black smoke from the engine exhaust.

  6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    A luddite writes...

    Technology is neat, and it looks like some clever people have been working on this, but do we, as a species, actually need this? Or could the brainpower and money be invested in some technology that helps more people live a better and happier life?

    Who will use a supersonic airliner? I suspect the same people as used Concorde - a small number of very rich people, and business people spending someone else's money. Who really, really needs to travel at 1500 mph, half way round the world? Some people get a job building the things (good) - but they could equally well be building offshore wind turbines or similar. A lot of people will have the noise pollution of yet more flights, even if it's less noisy than Concorde - how do the rich flyers compensate them? Heaven knows what it'll do to the ozone layer.

    We need to learn to slow down a bit, and use our technology to improve the lives of everyone, not just the few. Want to lie on a beach in the sun? Go somewhere close to home - you get the same sunshine. Want to have a meeting with someone 10000 miles away? Try Skype - no jetlag. Want to fly to New York for lunch or a party? Don't.

    I seem to be particularly grumpy today!

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: A luddite writes...

      The thing with technology is that there are very often unexpected benefits realised.

      Who wants to stare at a screen and type messages to people? In the 70s, very few people did... now it's pretty much everyone.

      Who wants to drive around in a milk float? But a tesla on the other hand... electric vehicle tech has improved.

      Why would you ever want to split carbon structures down to 1 atom thick? But graphene is now seen as a wonder material!

      What I'm saying really is: if they can get the techniques right on this aircraft, they will be able to apply them to other things. Quieter helicopter rotors probably (more stealth and less annoyance). A better understanding of complex aerodynamics could lead to more efficient rockets, cars, trains, etc. Maybe they'll work out a great way of reinforcing the wings, and that could have implications for civil engineering (eg bridges).

      Advancement of technology is generally a good thing.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
    2. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: A luddite writes...

      Whilst you are correct that you can meet with people via Skype etc (no need to jet across the Atlantic), there's a number of things you've missed.

      1) Visiting a country to actually sight-see (rather than just lay on the beach).

      2) Visiting friends/relatives

      3) Business trips that actually require physical input. I regularly fly on business, and not just "for a meeting", we use telepresence/conferencing for those.

      If you regularly take 7-11 hour flights, you quickly realise how much of a tedious drag they are. Furthermore, all technology starts at prices which are "for the privileged few". It's increasing adoption, more mass production and improvements in technology that allow these things to filter down to ordinary folk. And if in the future I could fly supersonic at a respectable price, I would do so.

      1. scatter

        Re: A luddite writes...

        Gotta say the argument about how regular flying is so terribly exhausting and tiresome for poor, downtrodden execs that they really can't live without supersonic flight / a new, more convenient airport / an extra runway etc etc *really* grates.

        The externalities of aviation (whether that be accelerated climate change, disrupted sleep for millions, air pollution or surface congestion around airports amongst many others) are enormous and I couldn't give a flying fuck if executives find aviation inconvenient. Flying all over the world on a regular basis is why you get paid much more than average so you can just deal with it. After all, the rest of us have to deal with the impacts of your flights and we don't get any compensation for the disrupted sleep and destabilised climate.

        1. Steve Todd

          Re: A luddite writes... @scatter

          You think executives are the only people that fly, and there's no economic benefit to air travel? I think you'll find that most of the rest of the world disagrees with you.

          1. 2Nick3

            Re: A luddite writes... @scatter

            Cutting the flight time between the US and India from ~16 hours to ~7 would make a huge difference for me, and I'm just a line grunt in my company. That's a whole day saved on the round trip - definitely not insignificant to me.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: A luddite writes... @scatter

              "That's a whole day saved on the round trip - definitely not insignificant to me."

              Only if the extra cost of the flight is less than the costs of the extra time.

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: A luddite writes... @scatter

                >"That's a whole day saved on the round trip - definitely not insignificant to me."

                Unless the added security takes longer than the flight

        2. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: A luddite writes...

          "The externalities of aviation (whether that be accelerated climate change, disrupted sleep for millions, air pollution or surface congestion around airports amongst many others) are enormous and I couldn't give a flying fuck if executives find aviation inconvenient. Flying all over the world on a regular basis is why you get paid much more than average so you can just deal with it. After all, the rest of us have to deal with the impacts of your flights and we don't get any compensation for the disrupted sleep and destabilised climate."
          Only local person I know who flies internationally more than once a year is a catastrophic climate change advocate. Until recently when he retired he was always flying to climate change conferences or the Antarctic. Go figure...

          1. Uffish

            Re: Only local person I know who flies internationally more than once a year...

            @ Pompous Git

            I hope that you know a lot of local people. I'm relying on people like them to offset my air-miles and save us all from a global catastrophe.

        3. Dave K Silver badge

          Re: A luddite writes...

          >> Gotta say the argument about how regular flying is so terribly exhausting and tiresome for poor, downtrodden execs that they really can't live without supersonic flight / a new, more convenient airport / an extra runway etc etc *really* grates.

          I fly regularly on business, and I'm not an exec. Nor even a senior manager. I'm a lead tech. I fly a lot on business because I'm good at my job, and my company uses my expertise as a technical lead for major projects, and also to provide support/training in various areas. As such, I am restricted to bog-standard economy flights and budget hotels.

          However, in the early days of flying, there was no such thing as an economy flight. It's only because technology improved and more and more people flew that planes became cheaper and more efficient, and prices dropped as a whole. Early cars were also expensive, so were early computers. Should we therefore ignore future technological improvements just because initially they're priced out-of-reach of normal folk? Or should we pursue them and accept that with continued development, the price will drop in due course?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: A luddite writes...

            "Early cars were also expensive, so were early computers."

            Yes, but the experience with those has improved as prices fell with mass market acceptance. The opposite has happened with flying.

      2. adam 40 Bronze badge

        Re: A luddite writes...

        >> Business trips that actually require physical input. I regularly fly on business, and not just "for a meeting", we use telepresence/conferencing for those.

        Yeah but I bet when you're going through immigration you're only there "for a meeting". I made the mistake of admitting I was there to do a little bit of work (to fix a test rig in Nortel) when entering Canada once, after thoroughly enjoying the "ahem" hospitality in business class on the way over the pond. I almost got barred entry, and had to spend C$125 on a work visa for 7 days. Whoops!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A luddite writes...

      "Who will use a supersonic airliner?"

      ... if they introduce laptop bans for hand baggage then cutting a few hours off a transatlantic journey may become attarctive to business travellers again. I remember visting the Concorde exhibit in Bristol where the guide (someone who'd worked on Concorde) explaining that he thought Concorde had lost its place in the business market due to laptops as business travellers were able to do some work on the flight and for the same price first class in a 747 was more attractive than Concorde apart from the flight time.

    4. Stuart 22
      Trollface

      Re: A luddite writes...

      "Who will use a supersonic airliner? I suspect the same people as used Concorde - a small number of very rich people, and business people spending someone else's money. Who really, really needs to travel at 1500 mph, half way round the world?"

      Wouldn't it be cheaper to give'em a free F-35 in place of their annual tax deduction? A bonus if they can land it on a moving deck. I'd put my money on Elon winning but at a cost of a good few very damp billionaires. Win-win?

    5. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: A luddite writes...

      I would, just to be aloft in such a lovely thing. I would feel like I was flying a needle in the sky.

    6. Uffish
      Paris Hilton

      Re: A luddite writes...

      Up-voted for the common sense of the suggestions, but I just had an enjoyable short break in the USA (from Europe) and would fly to New York for a party any time anyone invited me (assuming they really know how to party). We are all doomed.

      Anyway, the shape of that plane makes me think that NASA is telling porkers.

    7. Dazed and Confused

      Re: A luddite writes...

      Who will use a supersonic airliner?

      They probably want the tech for military roles and just see this as an easier funding path.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: A luddite writes...

        >Who will use a supersonic airliner?

        Nobody, this isn't about making an airliner

        Nasa has to beg for money each year. This year it has to beg for money from republicans who think Nasa is full of godless commies who do science and global warming.

        this shows Nasa is really about making America Great Again and therefore deserves funding

        1. Colabroad

          Re: A luddite writes...

          Now hold on this chap's got a point, I mean the automobile is still just a toy of the ultra rich, who needs to travel at faster than a horse's pace, and trains are just a fancy contraption for the wealthy, do we really need to go from Edinburgh to London in less than three days? I'm quite alright crossing the Atlantic on a boat, it's only a week or two, and I certainly don't need a ferry or tunnel to cross the channel when I could just swim!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A luddite writes...

            "trains are just a fancy contraption for the wealthy"

            <ahem> A nit-picker writes.

            Passenger railways started operation with three classes of accomodation: passenger trains were intended to be mass transport for all, right from the start (Liverpool to Manchester railway, being the first railway built with passenger traffic in mind). Fancy folk with money got fancy carriages and fancy service, the moderately well off got a decent seat and a roof, and the poor poor buggers got, erm, hard wooden benches and exposure to the smoke and other engine emissions, and the famously fine weather one can experience even these days between Liverpool and Manchester.

            Before that, the first steam locomotive powered public railway was built to connect collieries with Stockton on Tees and Darlington in its original form, mostly with coal carriage in mind. It also carried people because after all, it was fast and going to and from places people wanted to travel. I've just read that its passenger carriages were originally hauled by horses - from 1825 until 1833. I never knew that.

            Steam railways might well have been about making money for rich people from one point of view (sometimes they did get richer, sometimes they didn't), but the original idea was that they should carry pretty much everything and everyone - after all, you make more money the more you carry.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A luddite writes...

          republicans who think Nasa is full of godless commies

          Surely that just matches the Trump government, no?

    8. King Jack
      Facepalm

      Re: A luddite writes...

      Karl Pilkington, is that you? According to him mankind had invented everything in the 1990's. "We have everything we need and now we're just phaffin' around." KP quote

    9. pavel.petrman Bronze badge

      Re: A luddite writes...

      To add to the long list, just a few more from a field maybe closer to you: anti-lock brakes (or ABS) and airbags (or SRS) were first introduced as a extras in the wheeltoys for the rich few. I'd argue even a Luddite wouldn't argue against them today.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A luddite writes...

        "To add to the long list, just a few more from a field maybe closer to you: anti-lock brakes (or ABS) and airbags (or SRS) were first introduced as a extras in the wheeltoys for the rich few. I'd argue even a Luddite wouldn't argue against them today."

        Nope, they would argue back that it reverses Darwin. Head-on-a-swivel alertness is a survival trait, and being babied by things like ABS and SRS is making us soft. Make people LEARN how to steer a one-ton lump of metal properly using nothing but their hands and feet. And airbags? Who needs them? Put a spike in the center of the steering wheel instead; see how THAT changes driving behavior!

  7. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    The Tu-144 wasn't 'unreliable', it suffered two crashes (Paris Air Show, perhaps caused by a spotter aircraft, rumours abound) and another during a test flight. Commercial flights ceased quickly, but it was still used by the Russian space program, and NASA still own one I think.

    Onto a 'quiet boom' lovely idea, but the artists' impression looks a little bit short of passenger compartment space, so can it scale? Richard Branson is supposedly collaborating on a supersonic passenger craft as well, are we really seeing a resurgence in supersonic flight? his demonstrator aircraft is just a two seater, so again, can that scale?

    Perhaps as already said, instead of competing, we need some collaboration, take the best of everything (Reaction engines, boom free design,... whatever Mr Branson might have to offer (marketing?)) and and make one product, it might be easier to gain international acceptance and approval for supersonic over land.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      'The Tu-144 wasn't 'unreliable', it suffered two crashes'

      I'd call that fairly unreliable considering the low number of flights it managed to achieve.

      Space programmes tend to have a higher tolerance for fatal crashes* so their use by the Russian space programme and NASA don't indicate any degree of reliability.

      *The Space Shuttle suffered an appalling fatality/flight ratio.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Boffin

        "The Space Shuttle suffered an appalling fatality/flight ratio."

        The Shuttle flew 135 times, with two failures (Challenger and Columbia).

        Soyuz flew it's 135th flight last October, and has had three failures (Soyuz 1 and 11 were both lost Soyuz 10TA had a fire at launch, but the escape system worked and both passengers survived).

        Shuttle carried 833 people to orbit and back, and 14 died.

        Soyuz has carried about 325-400* people and four have died.

        So, I put it to you that the Shuttle has about an average safety record for a spacecraft.

        * (I can't find a number, and i can't be bothered to count them all up, also, Soyuz has had some 'almost failures', such as Soyuz 18A)

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        "I'd call that fairly unreliable considering the low number of flights it managed to achieve."

        Well, the Paris Air Show crash is rumoured to have been caused by a spotter plane (spying on the forward canard design) getting too close to the Tu-144, causing the Tu-144 to suddenly manoeuvre. The other crash was a test flight of a new variant.

        It's low number of commercial flights were more due to it being a vanity project which served little purpose in a communist country, than it's reliability. Concorde struggled as a project in a capitalist economy, after all.

    2. Steve Todd

      It was however

      unable to cope with moderately tight turns (hence the Paris Airshow breakup) and was vastly thirsty (not having stolen Concorde's secret to optimising fuel flow across the operating speed range, but they did "borrow" most of the rest of the design).

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: It was however

        I thought the crashes were due to poisoned design information.

        That the Concorde builders had deliberately faulty planes just in case.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It was however

          There's good reason to think that the Tu-144 ended up looking similar to Concorde simply due to parallel evolution. In detail, it was hugely different in all sorts of ways - airframe construction was totally Soviet, the engines were totally Soviet (albeit ultimately developed from British engines supplied openly after WWII), the wing development was protracted, totally Soviet, and very different to Concorde in detail, etc., etc.

          Why did the 1973 Paris air show crash happen? No one is sure. But the Wikipedia page on the crash has this curious and unverified claim:

          "In 2005, during the production of the Russian documentary The Fight for Supersonic Flight: The Truth About the Tu-144, E. Krupyanskiy said: "There were certain experimental control units present on the plane (Tu-144), that were installed on the plane for the first time."[this quote needs a citation] On the in-cockpit footage released before the test flight, the control console is clearly seen fully exposed on the back of the captain's seat. The control units were supposed to be disabled, with the console covered up and sealed for the test flight, but in the wreckage the console was found without seals or cover. Krupyanskiy said "They enabled a system, which was used to improve the manoeuverability characteristics of the aircraft ... improving the effectiveness of the rudders."[this quote needs a citation]

          E. Gorynov (another Tu-144 test pilot) stated that he is completely sure that usage of these experimental technologies was not decided by the crew. He also stated that he was 30 meters away from the aircraft before the test flight and overheard a discussion by the crew, where the captain said loudly: "If we are going to die, then at least we will die all together.""

          The Wikipedia page on the Tu-144, Paris Air Show crash section, states this:

          "Gordon et al state that the flight crew had departed from the approved flight profile for the display, a serious offense in itself. They were under instructions to excel the Concorde display by all means. During the unapproved, and therefore unrehearsed manoeuvres, the stability and control augmentation system was not operating normally. If it had been it would have prevented the loads that caused the port wing to fail."

      2. Lotaresco

        Re: It was however

        "unable to cope with moderately tight turns (hence the Paris Airshow breakup) and was vastly thirsty (not having stolen Concorde's secret to optimising fuel flow across the operating speed range, but they did "borrow" most of the rest of the design)."

        The rumour at the time was that the Paris Airshow breakup was along the line where they had folded the Concorde plans when they stole them.

    3. Andrew Newstead

      The impression shows an "X-plane" proposal to demonstrate the technology.

    4. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: Unreliable

      The Tu-144 completed barely 500 hours of commercial service, and had two major crashes, both caused by deficiencies in the airframe design.

      Concorde flew over 500,000 hours in commercial service and suffered one accident due to external factors.

      I think I know which one I'd define as "reliable"...

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Unreliable

        A lot of people are right, a lot of people are wrong, in regards to the reliability of the Tu-144.

        Yes it had 2 crashes. One on a test flight, and one caused by a spotter aircraft flown by the French and subsquently covered up. However, the aircraft experienced several inflight failures of various systems. One such incident resulted in the loss of 22 out of 24 onboard systems. The plane still flew, amazingly, but that's just one incident. The aircraft suffered from several structural "cracks", although this is fairly common to aircraft in general.

        However, reliability wasn't really the cause of it being pulled from commercial service. One factor was the God awful noise within the cabin when the engines were on. You could sit side by side to someone and you would have to shout to each other, such was the din in the cabin. It was also restricted to just one route from Moscow to another city (think it was Alma-mata?).

        The further problem with the Tu-144 was that the Soviets simply didn't have the technology to make it work. They put in some sort of request with NATO for help with the technology, but the British Government vetoed such requests as they felt that the technology could easily be used in military applications. Think this was down to the Soviets wanting access to Lucas engine controls and the British were like "Nah mate you're not having that".

        But while it's easy to scoff at it, I find the air craft fascinating. Probably more so than Concorde. The fact it could fly, and nearly match Concorde (but obviously failing) when the technology was no where near on a par with the Anglo-French aircraft, well it's quite a feat.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @GruntyMcPugh

      I'll believe Branson is doing anything when it actually happens. I've seen far too many boasts of his that have turned out to be hot air like buying the A380 and putting a casino and a gym in there https://www.theguardian.com/business/2005/jan/19/theairlineindustry.travelnews

      Michael O'Leary seems to have more of a Casino with scratchcards than you get on a Virgin plane.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: @GruntyMcPugh

        "I'll believe Branson is doing anything when it actually happens."

        ROFL, me too, I only included him for shits 'n giggles. Take Virgin Galactic, many years over due, horribly over budget, and still far from it's goals. Oh, and it's development has killed four people (I'm counting the three deaths from the static engine test). So instead of delivering that, he's backing another related venture. I say related, because Skylon could fit both roles, high altitude supersonic flight, or space vehicle, so why Branson is inventing two (sorry, three, there's a launch vehicle version of White Knight) different things seems short sighted.

    6. arctic_haze Silver badge

      Tu-144

      The supersonic Tupolev was build from stolen Concorde blueprints but the Soviets did not have right engines for it. So they changed the airframe to accommodate much heavier ones although with less thrust.

      The rest is history...

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tu-144 reliability

      The Haynes Concorde manual says of the Tu-144 that "After 55 flights, reliability issues forced a withdrawal from service."

      It also states:

      "So much had been achieved; it may only have been the final few aerodynamic and control refinements that eluded the Tupolev dynasty."

      Which might well be true, aside from an airframe construction method which turned out to result in a horribly dangerous structure.

      The Tu-144 Wikipedia page states:

      "A serious problem was discovered when two Tu-144S airframes suffered structural failures during laboratory testing just prior to the Tu-144 entering passenger service."

      "it turned out that large whole-moulded and machined parts contained defects in the alloy's structure that caused cracking at stress levels below that which the part was supposed to withstand. Once a crack started to develop, it spread quickly for many metres, with no crack-arresting design feature to stop it. In 1976, during repeat-load and static testing at TsAGI (Russia's Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute), a Tu-144S airframe cracked at 70% of expected flight stress with cracks running many metres in both directions from their origin."

      "While fatigue cracks of an acceptable length are normal in aircraft, they are usually found during routine inspections or stopped at a crack-arresting feature. Aircraft fly with acceptable cracks until they are repaired. The Tu-144 design was the opposite of standard practice, allowing a higher incidence of defects in the alloy structure, leading to crack formation and propagation to many metres."

      And then there were the day-to-day reliability issues, again from Wikipedia:

      "Early flights in scheduled service indicated the Tu-144S was extremely unreliable. During 102 flights and 181 hours of freight and passenger flight time, the Tu-144S suffered more than 226 failures, 80 of them in flight. (The list was included in the Tu-144 service record provided by the USSR to British Aircraft Corporation-Aérospatiale in late 1978, when requesting Western technological aid with the Tu-144, and probably incomplete.) A total of 80 of these failures were serious enough to cancel or delay the flight."

      "Failures included decompression of the cabin in flight on 27 December 1977, and engine-exhaust duct overheating causing the flight to be aborted and returned to the takeoff airport on 14 March 1978"

      "On 31 August 1980, Tu-144D (77113) suffered an uncontained compressor disc failure in supersonic flight which damaged part of the airframe structure and systems. The crew was able to perform an emergency landing at Engels-2 strategic bomber base. On 12 November 1981, a Tu-144D's RD-36-51 engine was destroyed during bench tests, leading to a temporary suspension of all Tu-144D flights. One of the Tu-144Ds (77114, aka aircraft 101) suffered a crack across the bottom panel of its wing"

      "Tu-144 pilot Aleksandr Larin remembers a troublesome flight around 25 January 1978. The flight with passengers suffered the failure of 22 to 24 onboard systems. Seven to eight systems failed before takeoff, but given the large number of foreign TV and radio journalists and also other foreign notables aboard the flight, it was decided to proceed with the flight to avoid the embarrassment of cancellation."

      "The final passenger flight of Tu-144 on around 30 May 1978 involved valve failure on one of the fuel tanks."

      "Soviet decision-makers had little confidence in the Tu-144 when passenger service began in 1977. Considering the high rate of technical failures their reasoning was sound. Bookings were limited to 70–80 passengers or fewer a flight, falling well below both the Tu-144's seating capacity and the demand for seats.[22] On its 55 scheduled flights, Tu-144s transported 3,194 passengers, an average of 58 passengers per flight. With officials acutely aware of the aircraft's poor reliability and fearful of possible crashes, Soviet decision-makers deliberately limited flight frequency to as few as would allow them to claim to be offering a regular service, and they also limited passenger load to minimize the impact and political fallout of a possible crash."

      "A problem for passengers was the very high level of noise inside the cabin. The noise came from the engines and the air conditioning. In addition the unique active heat insulation system, which used a flow of spent cabin air, was described as excessively noisy. Passengers seated next to each other could have a conversation only with difficulty, and those seated two seats apart could not hear each other even when screaming and had to pass hand-written notes instead. Noise in the back of the aircraft was unbearable."

    8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "The Tu-144 wasn't 'unreliable'.. Commercial flights ceased quickly, "

      While Concorde operated for close to 30 years with a perfect safety record, until it had one crash on takeoff.

  8. K Silver badge
    Joke

    Should be called the F.R.E.N.C.H

    Friggin

    Really

    Elongated

    Nose

    Cone,

    Holy-crap!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For flying over US cities they probably don't need to do anything to reduce the sonic boom - they can just tell everyone that this is "an Amercia sonic boom" and thus is inherently superior to any UK/French sonic boom of the past .... like the way I remember an electricty company spokesperson explaining away a power outage in late 90s which had talen out the entire west coast (Canada down to Mexico and across to Texas) by assuring everyone that despite this minor incovenience Americans could be assured taht they still had the "finest electricity in the world"

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      The landing space shuttle used to make a sonic boom over central Florida on its way back to KSC, I've enjoyed that a few times!

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        KSC

        I can't help reading that as Kerbal instead of Kennedy...

    2. Vinyl-Junkie

      Exactly what they did...

      ...with military aircraft low-flying and sonic booms; they produced the slogan "Jet noise is the sound of freedom" and promoted the idea that if you complained about it you were being unpatriotic and were clearly a Red...

  10. Mike Richards

    Perhaps we should pre-emptively ban it over here in revenge for the US's hissy fit over Concorde in the 1970s? America only got concerned about sonic booms when their own pig-ugly SST proved too lardy to get off the ground.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps we should pre-emptively ban it over here in revenge for the US's hissy fit over Concorde in the 1970s?

      The best form of revenge would surely be to encourage them to develop the technology, and re-learn the lesson that the market is tiny, and that they're overlooking ever tightening noise and emissions standards will make it near impossible to operate an SST in civilised markets.

    2. bjr

      BS

      The Boeing SST was canceled because of environmental reasons, specifically SSTs damage the ozone layer. It was also clear that they were going to be white elephants. The airlines didn't want them, they wanted the 747. France and Britain had to hold a gun to the heads of their flag carriers to get them to take the Concorde, eventually they just gave them the aircraft.

      1. Pangasinan Philippines

        Re: BS - Barnes Wallis

        School trip to a lecture by Sir Barnes Wallis (bouncing bomb fame).

        He said "I told the Americans not to use titanium!"

        Even as school kids we understood why.

        Living in North Swindon (Stratton St Margaret) we could hear the Concorde taking off from Fairford when the after-burners were activated.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: BS - Barnes Wallis

          > Living in North Swindon (Stratton St Margaret)

          You poor thing (living in luxurious West Swindon)

      2. Lotaresco

        Re: BS

        "The Boeing SST was canceled because of environmental reasons, specifically SSTs damage the ozone layer."

        You are right, that is total BS.

        We didn't even know about damage to the ozone later at the time and... guess what? SSTs were not implicated in damage to the ozone layer at the time and the NOAA did not evaluate ozone depletion by SSTs until 1995. The NOAA concluded that ozone depletion by Concorde was "negligible" and that a fleet of over 500 SSTs would be needed to produce measureable depletion of the ozone layer *if nothing were done to clean up nitrogen dioxide emissions*.

        Depletion of the ozone layer was due to the use of CFCs as an aerosol propellant and refrigerant.

  11. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  12. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    17:56 - every weekday

    for years I would see the beautiful silhouette of one of the testaments to postwar European engineering, as I worked in Hounslow, under the flightpath.

    Never failed to send a tingle down my spine (although that may have been the noise. You definitely heard it before you saw it).

    Maybe I skim-read too quicky, but I missed the part where NASA engineers admitted that Concorde was a greater engineering challenge than the Apollo programme ?

  13. Roland6 Silver badge

    QueSST isn't Concorde..

    Whilst QueSST is providing useful research, it does seem that it has a long way to go before it enters the same league as Concorde...

    Remember Concorde carried up to 128 passengers, flew from existing airports (okay they did 'longer' runways) and was able to fly transatlantic (supersonic), refuel and fly back (supersonic). Plus we shouldn't forget that the Concorde that entered service was basically the prototype, the money effectively ran out before they were able to really think about building the production version...

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: QueSST isn't Concorde..

      I remember wandering around inside a Concorde (at Hendon?) - interior certainly wasn't luxury. You wouldn't want to spend more than a few hours in it. For the prices of a ticket I'd expect more legroom, not just free champagne.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: QueSST isn't Concorde..

        A couple of hrs in short legroom is acceptable. The four hours getting from the car park to the plane is another matter. And the champagne - thought the idea was self important business people could hop over, do some work and be back in time for tea. Drinks dont come into that anymore.

        Its a bit like HS2 - if you dont live at one of the railway stations and need to visit another one the 20 minute saving is facile.

        I used to travel a lot for business but of the things I'd consider travelling long distance on business a day trip went off that list many years ago. If it really is important jet lag and the deleterious effects of air travel take too much of an edge of to make it worthwhile. If it really is an important meeting getting to it at 100% is a must.

        A lot of people do like to feel important by flying all over the place and I've accompanied them a lot but most of the time ssh would have got the work done before we left the work car park.

      2. Dazed and Confused

        Re: QueSST isn't Concorde..

        For the prices of a ticket I'd expect more legroom, not just free champagne.

        My uncle used to regularly commute to the New York on the Concorde and my aunt described it as "not being very comfortable but at least it wasn't very comfortable for very long."

        For return leg my uncle preferred a normal plane since there was not real benefit in saving time on the eastward leg. The flight out meant he could leave home in the morning as usual, go into his office in London handle anything sufficiently urgent and then fly to New York ready for a days meeting there.

  14. Spacedinvader
    Trollface

    You have just a general kind of a gradual pressure rise that produces a quiet sound.

    It farts. Awesome!

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: You have just a general kind of a gradual pressure rise that produces a quiet sound.

      "It farts. Awesome!"
      Obviously you've never heard me fart then! Probably because you're in the northern hemisphere...

  15. myhandler

    Yep live not that far from filthy, noisy Heathrow .. but Concorde would take off and do a sharp right and went directly over my street, one end to the other, engines roaring like rockets.

    The house would shake, the windows rattle and every time I'd rush to try and see it.

    Properly awesome.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      I remember returning a hire car to one of the off-airport rental companies out where T4 is now. I was driving round the perimeter road just past the end of a runway when the world started to shake. I looked up through the sunroof - into the reheat cones of a Concorde as it went overhead. That gave me a buzz for the rest of the afternoon :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "live not that far from filthy, noisy Heathrow"

      To be fair, that's less to do with it being an airport and more to do with it being part of London ;-P

  16. yiorgos

    Heavy use of area rule, which apart from reduced wave drag I am sure also results in milder shock wave.

  17. AbsolutelyBarking

    Had a student house at East Molesey (nr Hampton Court) in late 80s. One morning Concorde flew over much lower than normal directly overhead.

    Couldn't hear yourself shout. Whole house shook. Car/house alarms going off everywhere. Total goose bump moment. Fantastic!!

    Can see why some people wouldn't want this on a regular basis though....

  18. tedleaf

    Erm

    The Olympus engines that concord used were designed in the 1950's.

    Compare the noise levels of something like an F 16/18 and an old bac lightning,there is a large difference,even when reheat is used,engines have got more efficient and quieter over the last 50+ years.

    The two Olympus fitted to tsr2 could out bellow the 4 on a Concorde,even without reheat,you could hear tsr2 on static engine tests at boscombe down from a very long way away,made lightnings sound quiet in comparision,ahh they were the days...

    Plane spotters dream time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Erm

      "The Olympus engines that concord used were designed in the 1950's."

      Erm, actually the Olympus engines that the Avro Vulcan used were designed in the 1950s. The Olympus engines on Concorde were developed from the TSR2's 22R model - mostly in the 1960s and not finished until the 1970s. Even the TSR2's engine had a an awful lot of changes from the subsonic earlier versions.

      If you look on Wikipedia, you'll see the Rolls-Royce Olympus engine has a page and the Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593 is given a separate page, such are the differences.

      I'm sure you know that the English Electric Lightning was powered by a pair of RR Avon engines.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: English Electric Lightning

        Now *there* was a plane.

        one overflew a U2 at 66,000 ft

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Electric_Lightning#Climb

        would love to have seen the USAF pilots face.

  19. tedleaf

    Even Sr71 was quieter at take off than Concorde was,if tsr2 had ever been cleared for full thrust flights,you would have heard that beauty in the home counties from boscombe down before she even got off the end of runway.

    Ahh,real 1960's military engines,never to be heard again,nobody dares treat the survivors like they did then..make yer skin crawl and hairs on back of neck tingle properly and deaf for days after,fun times.

    This piece of yank poo will never even make it to prototype,let alone service.

    An sst that was acceptable by public etc could be built,but there is no sustainable business model,the first bad depression wipes it out,cos it's border line when times are good,that was also one of concordes problems..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      !!! ???

      "Even Sr71 was quieter at take off than Concorde was"

      Do you have a reference for this? I'd be astonished if it were true, but then again the SR-71 was an astonishing aircraft.

  20. MJI Silver badge

    People often forget

    That one small fleet of airliners have travelled more miles supersonic than all the others put together.

    I have seen it somewhere but cannot find it now.

  21. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Option 2:

    "..... generated plenty of complaints around airports, which try to keep things as quiet as possible so as not to disturb nearby residents"

    Some airports have solved this by quietly buying up land on the approach paths starting about 20 miles out, to ensure that it STAYS farmland.

    Airports are invariably built in rural areas, but people build houses near them for the transportation facilities (just like towns grew around railways stops) and then complain about the noise. You'd be surprised how much land newer airport companies own as a way of ensuring history doesn't repeat.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Option 2:

      Or how many have taken to positioning themselves on coasts and islands to reduce the odds.

  22. Herby Silver badge

    Noise complaints...

    You get these even if the plane is flying or not. This was proven on the days the flights were canceled for various reasons. The "concerned public" called in anyway to complain.

    Why fly? Well, on August 21st, a quick plane across the USA might be able to enjoy the eclipse for its entire length! Maybe they should get the SR-71 out of mothballs just to do that flight. Of course another reason to fly quickly is to make up the time waiting in lines and security theatre checkpoints we must all endure nowdays.

    1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      Re: Noise complaints...

      We had a series of tests conducted in the USA in 1964 to evaluate the public acceptance of sonic booms in preparation for our SST program. The public was generally accepting of the noise levels of up to eight events per day. But there was an outcry when NASA, having originally agreed to pay for any damage, dismissed many claims. It turns out that people were turning in claims for glass and plaster cracked by thunder among other things. Politically powerful people were upset and triggered an anti sonic boom campaign.

      If sonic booms are intolerable, most of the southern and midwest USA would be uninhabitable due to frequent lightning/thunder storms.

  23. Jim84

    Fly at mach 5 over the oceans

    I have a feeling that these low boom planes will still be to noisy.

    If Reaction Engines/BAE Systems successfully test their SABRE (Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket) engine, then their proposed LAPCAT mach 5 plane will be possible. This would be able to fly from any Atlantic to any Pacific coast in around 4 hours via the north or south poles all over oceans or the uninhabited antarctic. For non port cities, it can slow down to sub sonic speeds for the final (or initial) portion of the journey over land:

    https://www.reactionengines.co.uk/vehicles/

    http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/15268287.Space_plane_test_facility___39_up_and_running_by_2020__39_/

  24. Black Rat
    Black Helicopters

    Smells Like A Skunk Escaped

    I wonder how much Lockheed is bringing to the project? It could be this slippery supersonic design has already flying for some time.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bad link courtesy of NASA

    Unfortunately the arrogant sh**s of web designers at NASA have decided you can't see their page at

    https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-completes-milestone-toward-quieter-supersonic-x-plane

    at all unless you are running a browser of their choosing. Otherwise it's just an empty black screen - clever.

    A fundamental principle of the WWW as originally envisaged was that it was client agnostic, but this has been forgotten by the show-offs who ponce up web pages with fancy visual tricks. The basic principle is that the presentation of a web page should degrade gracefully on less capable clients, with the text content as a bare minimum visible on all browsers (including Lynx). Rendering entire pages inaccessible unless they can render in full glory serves nobody.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: bad link courtesy of NASA

      But this forgets one ancient adage: a picture is worth a thousand words, and there are SOME things you simply CANNOT properly put into words; the essential meaning gets lost in the translation. Just as it's impossible to make a born-deaf person really appreciate a piece of classical music, so too can Lynx never be able to really display the works of, say, the Louvre (IOW, something that has to actually be SEEN to be appreciated).

      That's why disabled accommodation is so tricky. There are some things you simply CAN'T accommodate because there's no context.

  26. Mike Flugennock

    Y'know, this is real sweet n'all, but...

    ...but let's face it, gang. Supersonic airliners are so 1970s.

    Screw that crap; I wanna go suborbital, man.

    NYC to London in, like, 20 minutes. YEAH.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NASA is a little late to the party.

    This has been in the works for a while.

    http://www.aerionsupersonic.com/

  28. TheRealRoland
    Coat

    "Low Boom Flight Demonstration"

    As Tim Nice-but-dim would say - 'seemed more like a thud to me. Or a bang.'

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0815x8KzSQ

  29. PeterM42
    Alert

    Do what?

    "... airports, which try to keep things as quiet as possible so as not to disturb nearby residents."

    What a load of B*ll*cks. Airports do what makes most money and sod the neighbours.

    Try living in Harpenden during Easterly ops.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Do what?

      Try living in any location when the bloody hot-air balloons are launching on what should be a quiet weekend dawn. I had the misfortune of living in Yountville in the Napa Valley while we were waiting for this place to close escrow. Never had a Saturday or Sunday lie-in. Awful, awful things, hot air balloons. Should be outlawed for tourist use.

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