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ATLANTA (CNN) -- By taking the bang out of the sonic boom a new generation of supersonic cruisers aim to rekindle the glamour of Concorde but make it a more environmentally friendly, and quieter, 21st-century mode of luxury travel. (Full story)
With air passenger numbers set to triple in the next 15 years, do small supersonic jets have a valuable place in the future of aviation?
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As an American resident in Asia for nearly 20 years, I sure hope I live long enough to take at least one supersonic flight. With current aircraft technology, it takes me something on the order or 24-25 hours actually aboard an aircraft to reach where my family lives in Texas. With layovers, that stretches into over 30 hours. In the county where I grew up there is a municipal airport that can, in a pinch, handle up to a 707-sized aircraft, so smaller jets could land and take off from there. It sure would be nice to be able to land within 15 miles of my family homestead instead of struggling through the maze of DFW Airport then having to contend with the traffic congestion that plagues it.
Of course small supersonic jets do have a valuable place in the future of aviation, as do large supersonic planes, small subsonic planes and large subsonic planes. Much as we are enamoured to the romantic ideal of revolutionary progress, the truth is progress is, and always has been, evolutionary. If you ask me what the 'big thing' in aviation will be in 15 years time, I'd say the Airbus superjumbo. Supersonic suborbital jets will be the province of eccentrics like Richard Branson and the like. I've nothing against the man, but I hate to break it to him -- he will not "lead the way". Thousands of geeks tinkering in their garages on low-budget gadgets will.
Obviously there will be a new demand for this in 21st century. I hope that the new technology is environmental friendly.