France and Japan plan new generation 'Concorde'

15th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

LE BOURGET, France, June 14 (AFP) - Aerospace industry associations from France and Japan on Tuesday signed their first-ever agreement to promote cooperation in research into supersonic travel.

LE BOURGET, France, June 14 (AFP) - Aerospace industry associations from France and Japan on Tuesday signed their first-ever agreement to promote cooperation in research into supersonic travel.  

The agreement, signed at the Paris Air Show here, calls for collaboration between members of France's Aerospace Industries Association (GIFAS) and the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies (SJAC).  

"Both industries have considered there is a lack of mature enough basic supersonic technologies and some technological deadlocks," GIFAS said.  

"However, some Japanese and French companies and research centres have a recognised expertise and have shown strong willingness to cooperate for mutual benefit."  

Engineers from both countries will cooperate in workshops in several key areas, including engine noise and fuel efficiency - the twin problems that destroyed Concorde, the Franco-British plane that was withdrawn in October 2003 after 27 years as a technological marvel but a commercial disaster.  

"Three-year research activities are planned for technologies related to composite material structure, reduction of jet-engine noise and other areas which can overcome the difficulties unique to supersonic flight," Japan's ministry of economy, trade and industry (METI) said in a statement released here.  

"Technology areas that may be envisaged for cooperation or exchange of information include the airframe and engine areas," GIFAS added.  

Entities that have expressed interested in cooperation include the European firm EADS and SAFRAN of France, as well as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Japan Aircraft Development Corporation (JADC), a consortium of firms in commercial aircraft making, and Engineering Research Association for Supersonic Transport Propulsion System (ESPR), GIFAS said.  

The ESPR, launched in 1999, is spearheading Japan's efforts to produce a quieter, more efficient and less polluting supersonic engine with the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) one of its prime targets.  

Supersonic travel has always been a keen area of interest among aviation engineers, but its commercial feasibility has risen and fallen in line with the fluctuating cost of jet fuel.  

France and Britain launched the Concorde project in the early 1960s at a time when oil prices were very low and the potential market for the plane was counted in the hundreds.  

By the time the plane made its first commercial flight, in 1976, that market had shrivelled in response to the first oil shock, in 1973.  

In the end, just 20 Concordes were made, and the long-haul market was dominated by the sub-sonic Boeing 747, easier to maintain and able to carry twice as many passengers over a longer range and at a lower cost per kilometre travelled.  

The former Soviet Union in the 1960s and the 1970s also developed its own supersonic, the TU-144, that was widely considered a copy of Concorde. It briefly flew between Moscow and Kazakhstan.  

During the 1990S, the US agency NASA with researchers from Boeing and McDonnell Douglas to develop a US supersonic jet with a payload of 250-300 passengers, almost three times the maximum capacity of Concorde.  

According to the design, it would fly at twice the speed of sound, being able to cross the Pacific from Los Angeles to Tokyo in a mere 4.5 hours.    

The scheme was dropped, after a billion dollars and nine years of work had gone into it, because the jet was considered unaffordable and there remained big technical obstacles to overcome, mainly of noise.


Subject: French News



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