is expected to reveal today details of three finalized Sonic Cruiser design
options and a “Super Efficient Airplane” baseline design to be offered to
airlines as choices for the manufacturer’s next generation airliner, which
could potentially be launched in 2003 for entry-into-service in 2008.
three Sonic Cruiser candidates include the now familiar canard-equipped
configuration, and two “mid-wing” alternatives with no canard and conventional
empennages that can cruise at the same high Mach 0.98 speed range. One mid-wing
design has aft-mounted engines similar to the original Sonic Cruiser design,
while the alternative has forward-mounted engines and significantly more
area-ruling of the fuselage.
Super Efficient Airplane, formerly dubbed the “reference” aircraft or “Project
Yellowstone”, will also revealed in detail for the first time. It will have a
conventional shape but advanced, high bypass ratio turbofans, advanced systems
and lightweight structures. The aircraft is being offered with virtually all of
the technical advances studied for the Sonic Cruiser, with the exception of the
faster aircraft’s high Mach speed and high altitude cruise capability.
Super Efficient design is configured to operate at today’s cruise speed and
altitudes but with around 10% less fuel consumption than the Sonic Cruiser and
considerably more efficiency than aircraft currently in service.
final verdict on which of the options could be launched as Boeing’s next
generation airliner will depend on how the operators put a conclusive value on
speed, says Sonic Cruiser program vice president and program manager Walt
see an opportunity for a 757 to 767 size aircraft with the same sort of range
capability as the A380 and 777,” he says. “The aircraft will have long range
capability to carry between 200 and 250 in three classes. But it’s the
airline’s choice. Either it goes 15% to 20% faster or we put the same kind of
technology into an airplane that would go at today’s speed and altitude, but
burn quite a bit less fuel.”