A new dawn in Supersonic Transport and technological innovation

A new dawn in Supersonic Transport and technological innovation, by Glenn Reynolds.

Today’s Boeing 787 may have advantages over the 707s that people were flying on when I was born, but speed isn’t one of them. Flight times have stagnated, and when you add in increased airport delays, travel time is actually considerably worse. But that may be about to change. …

now it looks as if we may be witnessing a new dawn in supersonic flight. Technologies have advanced to reduce fuel consumption, fuel prices look to remain low for the foreseeable future thanks to fracking, and aircraft design makes sonic booms largely a thing of the past — except in the name of a new company, Boom Supersonic, that’s working on low-cost supersonic aircraft. …

Despite the rise of computers and the Internet, most of my lifetime has been spent in what has otherwise been a time of technological stagnation, compared to the “golden quarter century” between World War II and the Moon landings. During that era, things were getting better at breakneck pace: Jet planes! Spaceships! The Pill! Antibiotics! Nuclear Power! Computers! The future was coming at us fast, and there was a sense that things would keep improving.

Then it all just … slowed way down. The 45 years since the last moon landing haven’t seen nearly as much visible progress, smartphones notwithstanding. And I think that has sapped the vitality of our culture in a number of ways.

Finally getting supersonic flights across America may not get us to the flying-cars-and-moon-bases future that we once anticipated, but it’s a start. I hope it happens, and I hope it happens fast.