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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Now If They Could Just Figure Out a Way to Speed Up Baggage Claim

Posted by on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 7:50 AM

Yay for science!

In a nondescript hangar at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, a team of aerospace engineers has been putting the finishing touches on a lightning-quick experimental aircraft designed to fly above the Pacific Ocean at 3,600 mph. A passenger aircraft traveling at that speed could fly from Los Angeles to New York in 46 minutes.

Or, you know, about 4 hours and 46 minutes once you figure in all the other bullshit that's involved in flying these days.

But, whatever. The era when consumers believed that advances in aviation technology would soon have us all flying at supersonic (let alone hypersonic) speeds has long since passed. Modern aircraft may be more fuel efficient than 40 years ago, but they don't fly much faster.

Personally, rather than investing in hypersonic aircraft that most Americans will never fly, I'd rather see my tax dollars go into building a high-speed rail system. But maybe that's just me.


Comments (19) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
you imagine they're planning to use the technology to carry people happily back and forth across the ocean?
Posted by peskypoop on August 14, 2012 at 7:57 AM · Report this
from the article: "The Pentagon believes that hypersonic missiles are the best way to hit a target in an hour or less. The only vehicle that the military currently has in its inventory with that kind of capability is the massive, nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile." yay for science, indeed.
Posted by peskypoop on August 14, 2012 at 8:06 AM · Report this
Renton Mike 4
Maybe I just need coffee, but I don't see how a plane designed to fly over the Pacific is going to get you from LA to New York.
Posted by Renton Mike on August 14, 2012 at 8:19 AM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 5
@4 is correct.

The problem with supersonic flight isn't the plane, it is the sonic boom. Supersonic passenger planes have existed for decades, and have failed as a commercial product (remember the Concord anyone? The old Boeing SST?). The US (and many other countries) won't let them pass through the sound barrier over our land area. It causes a huge sonic boom which annoys a lot of people and can cause broken windows and other such damage if done too close to a populated area.

This means that to use one for LA to NY, you'd have to fly west out of LA until you gained enough altitude and speed to break the sound barrier, then turn back and fly east all the way across the country, past NY and over the atlantic, slow down enough to pass through the sound barrier again on the descent, then turn back west again to return to NY.

That might still be faster than current subsonic times, but it would be a pretty convoluted route, and would take far longer than a 46 minute direct route. This is why the old Concord flights were used almost entirely for NY to Paris or NY to London flights. Trans-oceanic flights were the only practical use for them... and still are.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on August 14, 2012 at 8:46 AM · Report this
You won't be able to build high speed rail through Seattle, when BNSF shifts their capital investments away from the infrastructure here, as a result of a stupid basketball arena diverting cargo and business elsewhere. But then again, you never seem to get that "big picture" thing.
Posted by hmmmmm on August 14, 2012 at 8:48 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 7
It's all about who can lobby the D.C. clearinghouse for tax dollars.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on August 14, 2012 at 8:53 AM · Report this
billrm 8
"Now If They Could Just Figure Out a Way to Speed Up Baggage Claim"
Who the hell checks bags these days? You, Goldy? Must be nice to have the money.
Posted by billrm on August 14, 2012 at 8:58 AM · Report this
It is just you: trains are far too European (that is, 'faggy') for Real Murkins.
Posted by Gerald Fnord on August 14, 2012 at 9:54 AM · Report this
Steven Bradford 11
Well, we already know how to build high speed rail, in several different ways. We don't have to do the r&d on it. It's a mature technology.

Since Airplanes are our largest export, it makes sense for us to be ready have the capability to continue to offer the latest and greatest for sale. Especially now that the chinese are angling to be the new low cost producer for jetliners. (Industrial Policy! Warning Paul Ryan! Lookout Teabaggers) So this is what NASA does, and has done since they were NACA.

Whether it's a good idea ultimately, or pencils out, or makes too much noise or whatever else, that will be figured out eventually. My guess is the waverider will mainly have spacecraft to orbit or military applications, but, what do I know. There are other interesting reasearch lines at getting rid of the sonic boom, so who knows what will come together?
Posted by Steven Bradford on August 14, 2012 at 10:25 AM · Report this
Renton Mike 12
@8 Southwest Airlines passengers.
Posted by Renton Mike on August 14, 2012 at 10:46 AM · Report this
Zotz 13
High speed rail? I'd be happy with just better regular speed rail.

No air travel for me, ever again. I refuse to be herded and prodded and probed.
Posted by Zotz on August 14, 2012 at 10:49 AM · Report this
I wish we had high speed rail like BART. I was just in the Bay Area, and public transit was sooooooooooo much better than anything we have here. Underwater tunnel from Oakland to SF? Super fast. And then even when I was praising it, east coasters were saying BART sucks. We are so behind.
Posted by erly on August 14, 2012 at 11:05 AM · Report this
@6 Yet where are they when confronting traffic from coal trains they support, which would be much, much worse for the Puget Sound region?
Posted by erly on August 14, 2012 at 11:09 AM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 16
@8 Once you're MVP on Alaska, it actually saves you money. They give you miles every time it takes more than 20 minutes, and it seems to always take more than 20 minutes.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on August 14, 2012 at 11:21 AM · Report this
Karlheinz Arschbomber 17
Not that it's going to happen, like, ever- but if a genuine usable rail network magically appeared, the TSA would find a way to fuck up that experience, too.
Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber on August 14, 2012 at 11:23 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 18

How much of a failure was the Concord? Branson wanted to co-opt it for Virgin Airlines, but British Airways refused to sell the planes to him. Was Branson just going for a vanity project?
Posted by keshmeshi on August 14, 2012 at 11:47 AM · Report this
WFM 19
You never need to get halfway around the world in an hour, but sometimes you need to kill someone halfway around the world in an hour.
Posted by WFM on August 14, 2012 at 12:40 PM · Report this
Dougsf 20
Sounds expensive as fuck.
Posted by Dougsf on August 14, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Report this
Fnarf 21
@18, the Concorde lost money every time it flew.

The technological advances in commercial aircraft these days are all about fuel efficiency, not speed. Even the planes we have could go faster, but at a cost of way too much fuel. Even the superjumbo jets like the Airbus A380 are about packing in more people without using (much) more fuel.
Posted by Fnarf on August 14, 2012 at 3:06 PM · Report this

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