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Wed, Aug 30, 2006

Lockheed To Help Develop Supersonic Bizjet

NY To LA In Two Hours Aboard "QSST"

Lockheed's "Skunk Works" has a knack... a knack for speed. Knowing this, Supersonic Aerospace International (SAI), a Nevada aviation consortium, has commissioned Lockheed to design a 12-pax, 130-ft-long, 1200 mph (that's Mach 1.8) speed demon that could make New York to LA in two hours.

Calling it the QSST, for quiet supersonic travel, SAI says it could be ready by 2013. The "quiet" in the name comes from design changes that SAI says will all but eliminate the sonic boom associated with supersonic flight.

Lockheed Skunk Works' Vice President Frank Cappuccio says the QSST incorporates "aerodynamic shaping" and "a patented inverted V-tail." These design innovations, and a little "Skunk Works" magic, should make the QSST's sonic boom less than a hundredth of what once was heard from the world's only other supersonic commercial aircraft, the Concorde.

With visions of business executives and government leaders as customers, SAI executives think there's a market out there for a supersonic aircraft able to link the world's financial centers.

You may remember the Concorde was barred from flying at supersonic speeds over the US because of excessive noise. Since the Concorde's retirement following a fatal accident in Paris, there has been no commercial supersonic flight anywhere in the world. SAI is banking on hopes its smaller QSST will take over where the Concorde left off.

One aviation analyst thinks available engines and noise are the biggest obstacles to supersonic business jet development. Bill Dane at Forecast International says companies don't want to invest in an aircraft only to face operational restrictions caused by noise. (Since you asked, SAI estimates its investment in the QSST will reach $2.5 billion - that's not chump change!) But the marketing team at SAI believes they've answered those issues with their proprietary QSST technology.

In case you think SAI and Lockheed are chasing rainbows, companies in France, Italy, Russia and the US are all pursuing supersonic business jet designs as well.

Market research all over the world can't be that wrong... can it? 

FMI: www.saiqsst.com

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