The entry into service of Boeing's proposed Sonic Cruiser is firming up on the latter end of the 2006-2008 timeframe, John Roundhill, vice-president of marketing, New Airplane Programme said at the show.
"When we first talked about this airplane, we were saying 2006. Since then we have looked in more detail at the technical and development programmes and had talks with our engine suppliers," he said.
"As a result, we are now saying between 2006 and 2008, but I think it will be towards the end of that timeframe. We certainly believe it is highly probable that the airplane will enter service during this decade."
In a review of work on the project to date, Roundhill said the aircraft offered great market benefits, for passengers and airlines. Passengers are seeking more non-stop flights, more speed and comfort and frequency more closely tailored to their needs.
"Our customers are saying they want more point to point," he said. "All of us want to go when we want to go."
Boeing, he said, believes the answer is a higher-speed aircraft, travelling 15-20% faster than current models (Mach 0.95-0.98). It would fly higher, he added - at 41,000ft (12,500m) up to a maximum of 50,000ft. Earlier in the day, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Alan Mullaly unveiled a large model of the Sonic Cruiser. It gives a first look at the underside of the proposed aircraft with a design for the engine and nacelle installation. The engines are mounted behind the trailing edge of the double delta wing, featuring long inlets from the underside of the wing. The long inlets offer the opportunity to use materials that will reduce noise considerably.
An all-composite wing is planned for the aircraft, as well as a general bias in favour of composite materials. It will have twin engines in the 90,000lb (400kN) thrust range.
The double delta wing is placed further back on the fuselage than today's jetliner designs, and there is a pair of canards near the nose of the aircraft.
As with all Boeing aircraft, a family of Sonic Cruisers is planned. The baseline aircraft he sees as being slightly bigger than a 767-300 with 225 seats and a range of 8-9,000nm (15-17,000km).
Source: Flight Daily News