Re: Concorde Down

Date: Sat Jul 29 2000 - 09:47:20 MDT

In a message dated 7/25/00 1:27:29 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

> Thirty year old technology, and still the fastest passenger aircraft in
> the sky.
> Sigh...

Being an unreconstructed aerospace nut (and spending way too much time on
airplanes), I've followed the Concorde crash story with morbid fascination.
Some random observations:

<> The Concorde stands for the proposition (among others) that you "can't
push the river". Despite 35 years of effort by France and the UK, BA and
AirFrance haven't been able to make their SST really pay. BA says it makes
an operating profit on their birds, but only if you do the accounting such
that you consider that the company received the airplanes as a GIFT from the
British government.

<> Despite having suffered through a transatlantic flight more times than I
can now count, I can't make myself believe that an SST with current
technology makes sense. It seems to me that the disruption of one's schedule
from crossing 6 or 8 time zones in 3 or 4 hours is just as great as doing it
in 9 or 10 hours. Heck, just going back and forth between the US Middle and
Left Coasts is enough to kill the better part of two whole days for me. With
the ability to keep a laptop computer running throughout the usable portion
of the transatlantic flight now, I've come to actually be able to make
productive use of the trip if I want or need to.

<> By the time technology develops to the point that a ticket for an SST ride
is cost effective for the business traveler, telepresence will have made such
trips decreasingly useful. This is already happening. Those kinds of
business activities that can't seem to be replaced by telepresence tend to
not be the kind that are the most time-sensitive in the vast majority of

<> Concorde is a testimony to the fact that highly skilled and motivated
people can make an "irrational" technology work pretty darned well long past
the point where it would make sense to throw in the towel and let it die a
natural death. This is obviously a function of government subsidy and
institutional inertia insulated from market pressures, a lesson to which
advocates of swift technological progress should pay close attention.

<> I understand why the engines have to be in closed nacelles tucked in
tightly to the body and wing, but why not on TOP of the wing, where debris
from an exploding tire wouldn't be a problem?

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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