BA Eyes Boeing's Supersonic Cruiser as the Next Maxi-Concorde
Tomlinson, Heather, The Independent (London, England)
British Airways is being lured by designs of the Sonic Cruiser, Boeing's next generation of passenger aircraft, which willbe able to whisk business executives around the world faster than the speed of sound.
Boeing says the plane, originally planned for just under the sonic barrier, should be able to reach supersonic speeds when the pilots put the boot down. BA has "strong interest" in the new designs.
On the drawing board is a 250-seater able to fly 9,000 nautical miles without refuelling, and a 200-seater that flies 6,500 nautical miles. A BA spokesperson said the larger plane was preferred. The 100-seat Concordes of BA and Air France are the only operating supersonic aircraft.
BA has many transatlantic and Anglo-Asian flights that could benefit from the Sonic Cruiser, which would cut journey times by a fifth. Because Boeing is designing the aircraft so the cost per passenger will be similar to existing aircraft. The smaller size makes it economical for more direct flights between a wider range of airports.
BA is expected to use the Sonic Cruiser for high-budget business passengers, who pay a premium for fast journeys and comfortable travel.
Boeing has not had firm orders, although it says it is not officially marketing the Sonic Cruiser now. It needs to finalise design plans and set up supplier relationships. When the marketing process begins, British Airways looks set to be the first in the queue.
BA is among 12 airlines who have been consulting with Boeing on the plans. …