Last week’s poll: supersonic passenger aircraft

Will there be enough demand for supersonic flight to justify airlines investing in the technology?

supersonic flight

Commercial supersonic flight is making a comeback with the 12-passenger capacity Aerion AS2 business jet powered by GE Aviation’s new Affinity engine.

GE predicts the power plant will exceed the regulations demanded for noise in supersonic transition and will have good fuel economy too.

However, question marks still exist over whether there is enough commercial demand for supersonic flight to make services a reality, prompting us to ask whether engineer readers think that flying above the speed of sound is still alluring enough for airlines to invest large amounts in these new aircraft.

supersonic flight

According to 41 per cent of respondents, supersonic flight can be profitable, followed by a quarter of the vote that said it would be too expensive to be profitable. A fifth of respondents agreed that supersonic flight would be too polluting and detrimental to the environment, followed by nine per cent who think teleconferencing has rendered business travel obsolete. The remaining five per cent opted for none of the above.

Ekij pointed out in comments that with 12-passenger capacity, the AS2 is a personal jet for the hyper wealthy.

“They spend billions on floating party houses, so why not on a very fast jet?” asked Ekij.
“Do I expect to see BA buy one and offer a service across the Atlantic? … No”.

Ian Duncan pointed out that the new IPCC 1.5deg C global warming target would make this mode of transport impossible unless a hydrogen (or some other carbon neutral solution) can be found.

John Fulcher agreed, saying: “I’m all for progress, but this is pretty awful. Doesn’t the increasing greenhouse effect make any difference to those wealthy enough to fly smugly aloof from global warming? Or make money from it. Travelling at those speeds is no different to driving a car-you get owt for nowt and it may be more efficient at high altitudes–it’s the getting up there which takes the juice-and polluting the stratosphere is worse-once up there-it says there for much longer.”

What do you think? Keep the conversation alive using comments below. The comment section will be moderated to ensure it remains on track and constructive.