Air Transport World

Cruising at the speed of money: Boeing dropped its Sonic Cruiser because it couldn't sell airlines on the economics--but it believes the super-efficient 7E7 will sell itself.

When Boeing finally announced last December that it had shelved the Sonic Cruiser in favor of developing a new "super-efficient" airliner subsequently dubbed the 7E7, there were many who wondered if the plane-maker had lost the "right stuff." Continental Airlines Chairman and CEO Gordon Bethune dismissed the decision as having been made by "a bunch of accountants out there [in Seattle]."

But perhaps in the cost-conscious 21st century the right stuff has the color of money. British Airways Chief Executive Rod Eddington summed up the view shared by several airline leaders when he told ATW that "the aviation lover in me wishes it were the other way around but the airline business person in me believes it is absolutely the right call. We are entirely supportive of the Boeing decision to go for the high-efficiency option over the increase in speed. The increase in speed to Mach 0.97 or so from Mach 0.85 is not enough to justify the seat-mile cost differential."

That differential is "massive," according to airline executives who have been briefed on Boeing's proposed transport. "The only competitor [to the 7E7] will have to be an all-new design," stated one. "There is no chance of updating any existing design to compete," said another. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.