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point-to-point passenger flight

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Thu Dec 30, 2004 2:36 pm
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point-to-point passenger flight 
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Post point-to-point passenger flight   Posted on: Thu Dec 30, 2004 2:36 pm
Burt Rutan might cause the evolution of point-to-point passenger flights by derivatives of SSO.

The article "Virgin soars towards new frontier
Related: Team Scaled Composites / Mojave Aerospace Ventures" ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4119491.stm ) under www.xprizenews.org says:"... In exchange for some of the extra altitude and about 30 seconds of weightlessness, passengers also may have the option of landing in a different place from where they took off.
'The ship could launch not far from Las Vegas and land in Mojave,” Rutan said. “Or, we could launch offshore, start out over the ocean and then… fly over the mountains and land in the desert.' ..."

Branson/Rutan will offer such flights for fun - but from this and the experiences made by it perhaps the idea might come to their minds or to one of their rich passengers and tourists to provide services this way that are provided by airlines as Thomas Cook, Lufthansa, British Airways, Lauda Air etc. today. May be that one day a real entrepreneur similar to Rutan will be the pioner risking that and succeeding perhaps


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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 03, 2005 10:00 pm
How long do you think it might be before suborbital passenger travel becomes economical enough to succeed where Concorde failed?


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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 03, 2005 10:31 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
How long do you think it might be before suborbital passenger travel becomes economical enough to succeed where Concorde failed?

Your question is for Ekkehard Augustin, but I just wanted to add my opinion :)

I think it will be 15 years in the future.
SS2 will be not that "large".. so a lot of costs, and that's 2 to 3 (I guess 3) years in the future, so I guess in 15 years there will be a "large" airplane with 50+ passengers with SS2 features :) so I think by then.. it can be flying people who would have used the concorde if it was still here today.

Why 15 ?, I think Rutan plans to also develop an orbital vehicle after SS2, it will cost a lot of time and resources, slowing down sub orbital development to scale down ss2 (or similar vehicles) it's costs.

Also, how "larger" the airplanes are.. even if it's "known" technology, it will be a lot more "planning" and development time and costs to build such air/space planes.

But I guess for real rich people... or top executives of large companies.. the service can be offered earlier.. but not at the same price as the Concorde.
For the first version of SS2.. I think it will be too expensive for any company/person.. to use it often.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 04, 2005 10:38 am
Hello, Sigurd,

yes, you are right - we are thinking very similar.



Hello, Peter,

I explicitly quoted an article which in turn is quoting Rutan.

The point is that Rutan said that point-to-point flights will be possible and offered. The problem may be that I said, he might "cause" the evolution. Perhaps this use of "to cause" is misunderstanding - I used that word because I am missing the english word for the german word "Keim". A "keim" is the beginning of a flower for example.

As is known from deserts "Keime" (plural) can survive for long times undamaged. The vehicles for Virgin Galactic perhaps could be such "Keime" and the idea to offer point-to-point flights can be a "Keim" too. That it may last 15 years or longer until the flower will grow out of it doesn't matter. It will be sufficient if Rutan and Branson prove that it's possible.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 04, 2005 1:58 pm
15 years could be long enough for developing a large suborbital vehicle that does not require a white knight assist for takeoff. I have in mind something like the Bristol Spaceplanes idea. A thriving suborbital point to point passenger industry is critical to achieving affordable space flight. The only thing that worries me is that this would depend on the same market that failed to support the Concorde. In other words, point to point suborbital travel would have to be cheaper than Concorde to succeed. It remains to be seen if it can be done that cheaply. If it can, then I may yet get to the Moon, but they better hurry up! I have been waiting over 40 years now and am getting impatient!


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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 04, 2005 5:16 pm
It was not the price of the ticket that killed the concord. It was the public perception of the sonic boom and length of runway that religated it to only a few flight paths. In the past faster travel always had a market regardless of the price. If travel outside the atmosphere eliminates the boom and it can land and take off at most airpots it will find customers.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 04, 2005 5:57 pm
Concorde was limited to the transatlantic market because of the runway and sonic boom problem. That should have been a lucrative enough market. If it had the range to go transpacific too, that may have helped. I still think cost was the number one reason it was cancelled. They could just not charge enough for the tickets to pay for the cost of the flights. http://www.concordesst.com/faq.html says, “Why was Concorde retired? It was all down to Cost: The Airlines were not making back the money spent on the safety modifications and other upgrades, with some other big costs coming up (tens of millions, before any life extension programme), BA need to write off £84M now rather than £150M in 3 or 4 years. Air France wrote off a large sum of money too.”


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Post    Posted on: Sun Feb 06, 2005 3:56 pm
SSO, Virgin Glactic's vehicles or Bristol Spaceplane's vehicle shouldn't be compared to the Concorde anyway:

1. The Concorde is a plane for many times the number of passengers of those vehicles.
2. Despite travelling at supersonic speeds the Concorde requires more time for the same distance.
3. The suborbital vehicles can go shorter distances than the Concorde at higher speeds because they are using their speed to achieve very high altitudes - different to the Concorde which is using its speed to ahieve large distances only.
4. The turn-around-time of few-passenger-suborbital-vehicles will be shorter than the turn-around-time of the Concorde....



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Post    Posted on: Sun Feb 06, 2005 7:07 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
4. The turn-around-time of few-passenger-suborbital-vehicles will be shorter than the turn-around-time of the Concorde....


Concorde' turn around time was only a couple of hours, it use to fly to the USA and back a couple times in a 24hr period. I do not see a sub-orbital vehicle doing the same

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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 07, 2005 2:18 pm
I agree that a suborbital vehicle’s turn around time would be longer than Concorde. At least I have seen no evidence justifying that it could be shorter. Certainly SSO and the future Virgin vehicles take at least a day or two.

And I can’t see using a suborbital vehicle to go short distances. The whole point in going fast is to go great distances in a short time, not short distances in an absurdly short time. Nobody would think of flying Concorde from London to Antwerp, would they?

Finally, there is just no way that 5 passenger vehicles will ever compete with 100 passenger aircraft. The often mentioned economies of scale are needed to get the cost down.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 07, 2005 3:05 pm
Scaled Composites/Mojave Aerospace Ventures/Burt Rutan are working on significant reductions of turn around time for Virgin Galactic's vehicles.

So let's wait for the results they achieve in that.



Only to explain the method of my look into it:

1. Concerning the distances - SSO landed at that place where it has been launched from hanging under the Wight Knight. So the distance gone OVER SURFACE is zero at the end.

The point is, that the speed of 3,5 Mach achieved by SSO simply is going to altitude and not to distance over surface.

In principle it's clear since long that a space plane will arrive at distant places faster than an airplane. Such a space plane needn't to be orbital.

SSO only is the actual and current example.

If I wanted to go from Hamburg to Hannover this would be a distance of 150 km at the roads and it would not be much less at direct line. It's a problem to find and airline who will offer a flight to me but there is one - the plane never would go at supersonic speeds. The same plane would go wider distance during the same time it requires to arrive in Hannover - the distance is too short to achieve possible higher speeds. This an engineer explained to me many years ago. This is valid for supersonic speeds too.

Now by using a wider angle and going higher this way the length of an airplanes path could be increased and this could be an opportunity to achieve higher speeds. In principle SSO has been doing nothing else. By normal airplane I would be in Hannover within an hour but by SSO I could be there in half an hour or so.

The only problem of Scaled's current vehicle is the time the Wight Knight requires to achieve 15 km altitude: More than one hour.

If I would go to Hannover by SSO and if this would be possible without Wight Knight the distance gone OVER SURFACE still would be 150 km - but SSO's path would go into or near space which means that the path is perhaps 350 km long and that would be enough to achieve 3,5 Mach. 150 km wouldn't be enough.

What I wanted to demonstrate or to explain was that an airplane's path is nearly as long as the distance over surface it's gone - but the path of a suborbital vehicle is much longer than the distance gone over surface. And really this allows for significantly increased speeds for short distances over surface too.

It's simply the third dimension what's behind my "3." point.

A Concorde cannot be compared to a suborbital vehicle like SSO, Virgin Galactic's vehicles or Bristol Spaceplanes' vehicle as a whole. and their path's, their trajectories are very different.

All this has to be taken into account.

2. The economies of scale don't be dependent of the passenger capacity only - there are much more sources of them. In the 5-passengers-case the economies of scale of number of seats are missed but economies of scale of reduced boarding time will be won - 5 passengers are boarded much faster than 100 passengers which meas faster turn-around-time. The reduced boarding time results in an increased number of flights per period - and thus an amount of passengers per period that is multiple times the 5-passenger-capacity. This way other economies of scale will be got that are only a little bit less than thise provided by passenger capacity.



To get the correct trade-off all the points together have to be taken into account - not only single ones separated from the others.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 07, 2005 3:40 pm
I am thinking of all factors combined. You seem to be thinking only that high speed can overcome all problems.
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
The only problem of Scaled's current vehicle is the time the Wight Knight requires to achieve 15 km altitude: More than one hour.

The ONLY problem? There are many problems with Scaled’s current vehicle. $300,000 cost per flight, room for only 2 passengers, very long turnaround time and short range (a few hundred kilometers at most), in addition to the long climb to launch altitude that you mention.
For a viable suborbital industry we need 50+ passenger vehicles that don’t need the engine casing replaced for every flight, that take off unassisted, have better passenger comfort and range measured in thousands of kilometers. We need a mature technology and a realistic business plan based on actual numbers. I have seen neither described here.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 07, 2005 4:55 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
2. The economies of scale don't be dependent of the passenger capacity only - there are much more sources of them. In the 5-passengers-case the economies of scale of number of seats are missed but economies of scale of reduced boarding time will be won - 5 passengers are boarded much faster than 100 passengers which meas faster turn-around-time. The reduced boarding time results in an increased number of flights per period - and thus an amount of passengers per period that is multiple times the 5-passenger-capacity. This way other economies of scale will be got that are only a little bit less than thise provided by passenger capacity.


Hold on a minute, if you argue the turn around time is quicker because you only board 5 people instead of 100 which enables you to make more flights then those flights will obviously carry people who have to be boarded so the time goes up again. In principle it takes the same time to board 100 people whether you do it in 5s or all at once. This argument is flawed.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2005 12:25 pm
Hello, Peter,

from my point of view public perception doesn't have much to do with being economical, costs, prices and the like. May be I'm understanding "perception" wrong - in German we use the word "Akzeptanz" ("acceptance"?) to express wether people buy or refuse something that is offered at a price that fitting into their budgets and incomes. "Akzeptanz" has nothing to do with prices but with marketing, information, advertising, ethics and usefulness.

So costs, prices and capacities shouldn't be dicussed here - these are topics for the Financial Barriers section.

Public perception can be a base for reductions of costs, prices and so on... - ... and reverse. There is a feedback between them - they shouldn't be mixed together. So technologies and business plans shouldn't be described in ths section. And business plans like those of Virgin Galactic or Scaled Composites/Mojave Aerospace you never will find posted here - business secrets!



Hello, Andy Hill,

what I had in mind is that 5 people will be boarded in shorter time than 100 people. So a 5-passenger-vehicle can be launched earlier than a 100-passenger-vehicle. As a consequence the frequency of launches increases.

The economies of scale of the 100-passenger-capacity will be lost and economies of scale of frequency of launches wil be got.

In principle you are right - 20 times the time to board 5 people is the same as 1 time to board 100 people. This is arithmetics simply.

But there is an economic law first observed in the eighteenth century - its called the "Ertragsgesetz" ("law of revenues"?). It's a kind of natural law in Economics. It says that there is a number of passengers where - the law applied to the topic here - the time to board people will start to increase.

This law and similar phenomenons I had in mind.

At this point I realize that I perhaps shouldn't have answered to the economies-of-scale-argument in my previous post because I said above that such arguments don't fit into this section.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2005 1:04 pm
I'm sorry Ekkehard I cant see that the time saved boarding 5 people compared to 100 is significant. :?

In the UK you are required to be at the airport 2 hours before flight time to board an aeroplane, this applies to all planes (747s included that hold over 300 passengers), therefore to board 300 people takes 2 hours. In the case of Concorde I think there was a special booking desk and things were speeded up which probably meant it was something like 45 minuutes to board 100 people. If people could be boarded at the same rate (and there will probably be extra forms and things because of the percieved dangers inherent in rocket travel) this would only be a saving of about 40 minutes.

Just fueling a sub-orbital craft will take much longer than a conventional plane and be much more involved if fuel/oxidiser requires to be kept at extremely low temperatures. If a SSO type vehicle is used there will be the time to mate the vehicle to the carrier to take into account, the same will go for a vehicle which uses a booster like Starchaser. I cannot see anyway a suborbital vehicle will have a faster turn around time than a conventional aircraft.

Andy

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