Travel

20 years after Concorde’s last flight, airlines plan to resume supersonic air travel

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When British Airways last flew its supersonic Concorde almost 20 years ago, the era of flights between New York and London in less than four hours with champagne, caviar and lobster seemed to be over.

Now, however, aircraft manufacturers and airlines are trying to revive that dream and are pouring millions into companies that say they are building better, cleaner, and more fuel-efficient aircraft that can fly at supersonic speeds, that is, faster than the speed of sound. They hope to be successful by 2029, when travelers can fly business class between New York and London in just over three hours—all for $5,000 to $10,000 round trip.

But the race comes at a decisive moment. Airline revenues have shrunk due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing companies to look for additional sources of revenue as they slowly recover. As climate change accelerates, carriers are faced with the challenge of expanding their operations while minimizing carbon emissions.

However, technical problems remain. Jet engine technology, noise regulations and a shortage of cleaner and alternative aviation fuels will make it difficult for airlines to secure government aircraft permits and keep ticket prices low, critics say. They added that bold corporate claims about the return of supersonic travel will face scientific challenges in the coming years.

“These manufacturers are trying to reinvent supersonic aircraft,” said Dan Rutherford, director of the Aviation Program at the International Council for Clean Transportation. “But they can’t reinvent science – and science is actually quite deadly.”

Supersonic travel has captured the imagination of aviators for decades. In 1947, a captain in the US Air Force. Chuck Yeager became the first person to fly at supersonic speeds, which inspired commercial aviation companies to follow suit. In 1962, the British and French governments signed a pact to develop a supersonic jetliner called the Concorde.

In 1976, Concorde made its commercial debut with two airlines, British Airways and Air France. Over the next two decades, the aircraft became a symbol of luxury living. The menu included champagne, caviar, lobster and lamb. Hollywood celebrities, athletes and business moguls were photographed while boarding the plane. The plane will fly at an altitude of 60,000 feet, taking passengers from New York to London in just three hours, cutting travel time by nearly half.

Despite the glamor and speed, the plane was plagued by serious problems. He created a sonic boom that was so loud that airlines could only fly faster than the speed of sound over water. The plane used up a huge amount of fuel, causing ticket prices to rise; in the early 1990s, a round trip airfare between New York and London cost $12,000.

The aircraft’s engines were also noisy, angering residents who lived near airports with Concorde aircraft. And in 2000, an Air France Concorde flying from Paris to New York caught fire and crashed…

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