Paris to Tokyo in 6 hours?

Paris to Tokyo in 6 hours?

Paris to Tokyo in 6 hours?

If British and French aerospace officials have their way, sometime around 2010 an executive could hold a morning meeting in Tokyo, breakfast with associates in London and chair a full-day session in New York – all on the same day. That concept propelled last week’s announcement by British Aerospace and France’s Aerospatiale of a feasibility study of a “Super Concorde” capable of traveling 1,780 miles an hour (Mach 2.4) and carrying 300 passengers up to 6,000 miles.

The first Concorde, which debuted commercially in 1976, was a financial flop. It now is used only on the rich transatlantic run, and just 13 of the droopnosed Mach 2 planes are flying. Operations are profitable, but heavy subsidies were needed through 1986, and only British Airways and Air France bought the aircraft. It is plagued by high fuel and maintenance costs and by a short range (4,000 miles) and small payload (100 seats) that add up to high ticket prices: $3,606 one way on British Airways.

Concorde II, believed technically feasible, could avoid some of those problems. Government-industry teams in the United States and Japan are already studying commercial aircraft as fast as Mach 25, but development is so costly – at least $10 billion for Concorde II – that all the world’s major plane makers would have to join the venture. “It would be madness to make two” versions, said Aerospatiale chief Henri Martre. But his first task is to prove it would not be madness to make one.

PHOTO : Concorde II. If it can be built, the new supersonic plane will girdle the globe at 1,780 miles per hour

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