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Going Direct: Supersonic Bizjets Were Always A Long Shot. Has The Pandemic Doomed Them?

Supersonic bizjet rendition
Illustration by SUNDAYUA/Shutterstock

Last week when the FAA released its proposed guidance on the certification and flight-testing of commercial supersonic aircraft, the big news was that the FAA did that at all, reversing a nearly 50-year-old ban on overland flight of supersonics. The United States wasn’t alone in its continental Mach One speed limit, and the most noteworthy of the supersonic transports, Concorde, was limited to ripping up the North Atlantic crossing at Mach 2 but was required to slow down as it neared shore.

It’s hard to say how much of a difference more liberal rules would have made to the success of the aircraft, which was a technological wonder and a commercial failure. The major operators, British Airways and Air France couldn’t sell tickets for as much as they needed to charge for them in order to make a profit, so the remarkable experiment that was Concorde was relegated to little more than a branding effort.

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