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  • Writer's pictureAndreas Hardeman

Supersonics? “Not So Fast”, Some Say

(Originally published on 16 August 2019)


Those fortunate enough to have flown the iconic Concorde still marvel at the memory today. At least, so I am told by some of my older, humblebragging aviation friends. I must admit though, I am enough of an aviation geek to vividly recall my own excitement at boarding my first A380, B787 and A350, and now I can’t wait to fasten my seat belt for my first supersonic flight.


Lucky for me, and many others out there, I am sure, it is possible we will see ‘NewGen’ supersonic transport jets (SSTs) enter service within the next several years. The truth is, however, that not everyone may be equally keen to see these marvels of technology return to the skies so soon, if at all.


Few will remember how effectively the “Anti-Concorde Project” managed to whip up public fear in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, contributing to the adoption of SST overflight bans in many countries. When Concorde eventually entered service in 1976, only 14 aircraft were delivered to two airlines, BOAC and Air France. A total of 54 options from 14 other airlines never materialized, a significant economic and political let-down.


While I doubt that we will see people take to the streets or block runways to oppose the new SSTs under development by Boom Supersonic, Aerion Supersonic and Spike Aerospace, I do predict we will see some stubborn resistance building in certain circles.


As expected, NGOs and activist think tanks, amplified through “progressive media", have not wasted time occupying the public square, seeking to dictate the parameters of policy discourse early on. Packaged in terms of social acceptability, their focus has been, unsurprisingly perhaps, on noise and climate change concerns.


One has to wonder though, with technological innovation accelerating at a phenomenal pace, why it is that so much of the public debate around SSTs is steeped in pessimism and regressive thinking? Instead of hoping to check technological advancement and by extension stunt socioeconomic progress, surely our collective focus should be on promoting the kind of research and innovation that will allow us to successfully overcome the environmental and economic barriers that once existed.


 

This is Part 1 in a mini-series of blog posts focusing on emerging air transportation technologies and their contribution to sustainable development.


About the author: Andreas Hardeman (The Hague, 1967) is an internationally experienced air transportation lawyer, sustainability expert and acclaimed aviation writer and commentator on current industry trends. Opinions in this blog are exclusively those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of his business associates or clients. He can be contacted directly at info@astraworx.com


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