Nothing new in the sky

A couple of years ago, we wrote a piece here lamenting the lack of any plans by major manufacturers to build faster commercial airliners.

The fact of the matter is that Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner and Airbus’ Super Jumbo A380 fly no faster than the first U.S. jetliner introduced into service in the 1950s, the Boeing 707.

While 550 to 600 miles per hour was an incredible gain over the speeds of the propeller era, two-thirds of a century later it feels like positively plodding across the sky.

Frankly, we are surprised that none of the airlines that fly internationally or across oceans to places like Hawaii have not pressured manufacturers to come up with new, faster designs.

As far as we know, since the retirement of the Concorde in 2003, no commercial airliner has flown or been proposed as a supersonic transport. The Concorde flew at about 1,350 mph, nearly twice the speed of sound (approximately 760 mph).

In other words, it was more than twice as fast as today’s “modern” airliners.

We realize that because of its design and resultant lack of capacity, the Concorde never made money for Air France or British Airways – the two airlines that flew it. But, the design of the Concorde is now 40 years old. Have there been no technological advances in designing planes to break the sound barrier?

It seems that carriers that serve remote areas like Hawaii would be pushing Boeing and Airbus to look at SSTs again.

Travel time must be a barrier that is costing our islands thousands of visitors per year.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.