The whole point of flying is to get from one place to another quickly. But sometimes, air travel can get slowed by the numerous stops between destinations and the time spent waiting for the next flight. The Sonic Cruiser may be able to reduce those types of delays not only by travelling faster, but also by eliminating the need for a refueling stop.
Boeing said that the Sonic Cruiser could eventually connect cities thousands of miles apart via non-stop fights. If it fulfills its promise, the aircraft could have a range of about 9,000 nautical miles (16,668 km). Non-stop flights from Los Angeles to Singapore would be possible. The longer distances are achieved through using 777-class engines on a smaller aircraft, the new delta wings and increased fuel capacity.
Boeing has even suggested a potential range of 10,000 nautical miles (18,520 km) in later versions of the aircraft. If that were possible, you could get on a plane in New York and stay airborne until you arrived in Sydney, Australia. The trip, which takes about 21 hours today, would be reduced to 18 hours, and the need for a layover would be eliminated entirely.
One reason for developing the Sonic Cruiser is that it could help solve overcrowding in the skies by providing fast, point-to-point travel and avoiding the major hub airports. Craig Martin, a spokesperson for Boeing, said that Boeing envisions the air-travel industry becoming increasingly fragmented, with an increased demand for non-stop routes between smaller cities. The Sonic Cruiser will give airlines the ability to fulfill that demand.
While the Sonic Cruiser is expected to offer fast air travel, second only to the Concorde, passengers won't have to pay Concorde prices. The price of a transatlantic Concorde ticket is more than $5,000 and is based somewhat on the maintenance costs of the plane, but more so on the prestige of flying on it. The Sonic Cruiser would be a full-scale production plane and equivalent in cost to any conventional airplane. British Airways is even taking a look at the Sonic Cruiser, but hasn't committed to any plans to replace the recently beleaguered Concorde.
The Sonic Cruiser has received a lot of attention from the media and has created quite a buzz in the airline industry. Boeing has even said that it may starting taking orders for the aircraft in 2002. Yet, while the Sonic Cruiser opens up new possibilities for air travel, it is still just one concept on Boeing's drawing board. Only time will tell if this concept will fly.
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