Will Concorde get a successor ?
Many people ask that question. Concorde is rather old for a supersonic plane but she is still there. The dramatic accident of Gonesse, with its 113 victims, should not gloss over the fact that se has no concurrent and there is no plane equivalent.
Events of July 2000 évènements de juillet 2000 brought light to what we knew about Concorde :
– Yes, Concorde is profitable. More at British Airways which use her Concorde than at Air France which would rather preserve them
– Yes, Concorde has to be handled with care and need more attention than other planes. But, do one care about a Ferrari like a Lada ?
– Yes, only rich people can afford to take Concorde.
– Yes, Concorde make dream people, like me.
– Yes, Concorde remains a prestige and heritage for both France and Great Britain
Moreover, and this is the purpose of this part of the site, Concorde is and remains ahead. One cannot deny she is noisy , compare to new airplanes, and that she has a greater fuel consumption but flies 2,5 times faster and that her annual flying hours are low.
However there is no successors in sight, only futuristics proposals in planning offices
Pointing out to the future
Boeing : Last in time
Mai 2001, Boeing introduces a proposal for a plane almost supersonic: a Canada dry Concorde. It looks like Concorde but is far to be one.
The 20XX ( Sonic Cruiser ) of Boeing, which will fly just below Mach 1 ( i.e. 20% faster than current planes ) is it only an answer to A 380 Airbus ?
This plane with 175 to 250 passengers will fly higher and will gain 1 hour every 3000 miles. Its futurist shape with its delta wings will not bring it efficiency. Delta wings are for supersonic flights and its wide body for subsonic.
It might be again a commercial coup like the one of supersonic B 2707 while Concorde was in gestation !
The more likely : executive jet plane.
The concept of a supersonic executive jet is different from the one of a successor for Concorde: that would be jets of 8 to 10 seats able to fly at supersonic speed.
French aircraft constructor Dassault has a plan for a supersonic executive jet with 10 to 15 seats. Idem for Lockheed/Gulfstream planning for a supersonic executive jet. Market is estimated to 200 to 300 planes at cost of 80 millions USD each. Gulfstream hopes to manufacture the prototype of this kind of plane around 2005, with a sale date in 2010.
The main problem is how to reduce the supersonic bang in order to be able to fly over inhabited countries. ( Concorde flies supersonic over seas only. )
Outsider : EADS and ATSF
In March 2001, EADS was not so concerned by giving a successor to Concorde. Only a few persons (10 in France and 10 in Europe ) are busy on it. EADS being focussed on A 380, not neglecting completely however the idea of getting a successor to Concorde. There is some studies.
Dominique Gentilli ( in charge of the project at EADS ) does not see an operating date before 2020/2025, real studies having not yet begun.
Market is estimated to 500 to 1000 planes at date 2020, development cost estimated at 15 billions USD
- Concorde : 100 seats / 6 000 km / Mach 2
- Concept ATSF : 200 seats / 10 000 km / Mach 2
- Three classes, ticket only 20% more expensive.
Mach will not be 2,4 because of the heating problem and one could even think of 1,6 in order to use the same materials than for subsonic planes.
The three main points for study:
- Bang :Rather than trying to get rid of it in using special shapes, studies are to locate area hit by the bang in order to plan special routes.
- Emission of gas: NOx or steam
Study of environment impact due to the fleet, routes, places where these gas would occur, their concentration.
- Noise : The aim is to reduce noise at the same level than subsonic planes. It is the main problem.
Concorde will retire in 2005/2010/2015 (hard to say) but what we know is that her successor will not be there to take place.
US say they are not working anymore on that project, however it is possible than NASA with its special credits go on. To those ignoring one dos not talk much about) we will recall the importance of civil and military expenses allowed by US government to aeronautical industry.
French government has initiated in May 2001 a second call for supersonic studies but sums allocated are far from what they should be.
As for hypersonic planes, they still belong to science fiction. All the points (noise, fuel consumption, heating…) must be multiplied by X. May be will see fighter planes first and we’ll have to wait a long time before seeing passengers boarding those planes. (See article at end)
So, how long without successor ?
Saturday June 2 2001 (AFP) First test of experimental plane without pilot X 43 has failed. Even if research in hypersonic flight is risky and in its beginning, it is a hard blow for NASA. Rocket Pegasus XL, launched from a B 52 bomber above Pacific ocean and was supposed to haul X 43 in high altitude for an historic flight at Mach 7 (4,800 mph) had to be destroyed in flight due to erratic comportment
After more than five years of testing in wind tunnel, this real test should have checked overall performances in flight of the first scramjet, a revolutionary engine able to propel X 43 at speeds up to Mach 10 (6,875 mph)
Two more tests are expected inside the project Hyper X, at a total cost of 185 millions USD: one on coming winter, second at end of 2002.
X 43 is the result of 20 years of research in the technology called scramjet (Supersonic Combustible Ramjet) based on the principle of propelling by a supersonic combustion ramjet engine