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Bangkok to Los Angeles in just over 5 hours. The second supersonic revolution.

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Bangkok to Los Angeles in just over 5 hours. The second supersonic revolution. | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: boomsupersonic.com

When the world’s first supersonic passenger jets took to the skies (in December 1968 – The Russian TU-144, followed not long after by Concorde in March 1969) the two aircraft had been designed with slide rulers and tested in rudimentary wind tunnels. The age of computer design and digital bench testing was a generation away.

Still, the feat to design and fly these supersonic passenger jets was an engineering marvel that was, sadly, enjoyed by few.

The TU-144 was an early failure, but the Concorde flew on until 2000, when an Air France Concorde crashed just after take-off. It was the final nail in the coffin for the world’s short experiment with supersonic passenger flights (flown commercially by British Airways and Air France).

Since then design, construction materials and engines have substantially improved. Is it time for another go at supersonic passenger jets?

Fast forward nearly six decades from those first flights and the prospect of supersonic passenger services are again a serious reality.

Really, since Boeing 707 first took to the skies in 1957, very little has changed with both the design and top speeds of the jets we fly around in. 60 years of sub-supersonic flight – around 950 kilometers per hour, tops.

Supersonic jets flew up around twice the speed of sound (Mach2), around 2,000 kilometers per hour, cutting boring long flights substantially. They flew at around 18,000 metres high (around 60,000 feet) where passengers say they could see the curvature of the earth.

But imagine Bangkok to Los Angeles in 5.5 hours, Sydney to Los Angeles in just under 7 hours. Suddenly the least appealing part of long-distance flight vanishes. And longer flights, say Melbourne to London, now impossible in current jets, become realistic with an 8 hour flight time.

Boom Technology is one of the new players seriously preparing for the next generation of supersonic flight. They’ve raised $85 million in funding from visionary seed investors and strategic partners, such as Virgin Atlantic. Last December, Japan Airlines reportedly put up $10 million to pre-order 20 of the 55 seat Boom airliners, slated for a 2023 launch.

Japan Airlines has invested $10 million into Boom Technologies, a Denver-based startup that wants to revive supersonic air travel by the middle of the next decade. The airliner Boom hopes to one day build would cruise at 1,450 mph — 2.2 times the speed of sound — and accommodate 45 to 55 passengers in business class seating. That’s about half as many as the now-retired Concorde – CNN Money

Bangkok to Los Angeles in just over 5 hours. The second supersonic revolution. | News by The Thaiger

An Air France Concorde takes to the skies

Now, Ctrip, Asia’s largest travel services provider, with 300 million registered users, has became Boom’s first strategic partner from China. Boom’s real economic potential rests with the ‘China Factor’. With less than 10% of Chinese currently owning a passport the potential for serious growth is staggering in the emerging travel superpower.

“Countries in the Asia-Pacific region are the most popular destinations among Chinese outbound tourists. One major reason is the shorter distance and travel time. Just think about it – an overnight long-haul trip could become a simple day trip,” says Victor Tseng, chief commercial officer of Ctrip.

Boom has publicly announced plans to fly its XB-1, a two seater demonstration aircraft, later this year as ‘proof of concept’. All going well the company will then begin construction of a fleet of supersonic commercial jets that are designed to fly at Mach 2.2 – around 1,451 mph (2,335 kilometers per hour) or more than double the speed of sound.

Bangkok to Los Angeles in just over 5 hours. The second supersonic revolution. | News by The Thaiger

The Boom XB-1, proof-of-concept plane ready for its first flight later this year – boom supersonic.com

Peter Goelz, senior vice president and aviation analyst at O’Neill and Associates, isn’t quite as optimistic. Speaking to CNN Travel he said… “I am not sure that I am as optimistic as they are that the challenge of sonic booms over land has gone away – that was devastating to the Concorde. If they are able to announce a more significant investment (in the order of billions) and some substantive blue-chip aerospace partnerships, that would demonstrate that these guys might have a real shot.”

So what are the differences that will allow Boom to succeed where the Concorde and Tupolev Tu-144 failed?

Firstly, technology. Another 60 years of new materials, computer design refinements, vastly improved engine technology.

Secondly, the economics. There is now a 10-fold increase in the numbers of flying travellers in 2018 compared to 1970. 10 times the number of paying passengers. And that’s set to double again in the next decade or so.

Thirdly, with computer design and testing, the company has been able to ‘bench fly’ thousands of different variations to find the best final design and combination of materials, wing-styles and engines. Problems, such as the sonic-boom, a loud noise made when the plane breaks through the sound barrier (1,192 kilometers per hour at sea level), will be greatly reduced with the newer wing designs.

Finally, the Boom design plans to carry just 55 passenger seats – compared with up to 120 passengers on the Concorde. Boom believes that this smaller ratio of passengers to running costs will be more sustainable for operating airlines.

This would end up in a round-trip ticket between London and New York estimated to cost around US$5,000 compared to the Concorde’s US$13,000 price tag for the same trip (that was the fare back in 2000). Boom says this compares with a Business Class ticket on your average cross-Atlantic return flight now.

Whilst the shorter, between-city trips around Asia will carry on in conventional jet plane designs, the new Boom could revolutionise trans-continental flight as we ponder the second generation of flying supersonic.

SOURCES: boom supersonic.com, CNN Travel, CNN Money

Bangkok to Los Angeles in just over 5 hours. The second supersonic revolution. | News by The Thaiger

55 ‘premium’ seats and over-size windows feature in the new Boom supersonic design – boom supersonic.com



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Thailand braces itself for a ‘no deal’ Brexit

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Thailand braces itself for a ‘no deal’ Brexit | The Thaiger

Embattled British PM Theresa May is working against the clock to get her Brexit deal through Parliament after the recent defeats..

The British lawmakers last week voted to reject the option of leaving the European Union’s without a deal, raising questions over the conditions for the UK’s leaving the EU bloc. The deadline for their divorce is only two weeks away.

But economists are warning Thailand to brace for some fallout from the UK exit from the EU because it is more likely to happen than not, just a matter of when.

First of all, no-deal Brexit means the UK will no longer be a part of the EU bloc and will have to revert to World Trade Organisation rules on trade. Made-in-UK goods will be subject to EU tariffs, like that of other non-EU nations. Meanwhile, the price of the EU-made merchandises in the UK may become more expensive as they will have to bear the cost of imported tariffs as well.

According to SCB Economic Intelligence Centre, a no-deal Brexit will impact the UK economy and, consequently, affect British purchasing power overseas. British demand for Thai exports, namely automobiles and parts, and processed chicken meat may reduce.

British expats will also have to face a worsening rate of exchange with the Thai baht, lessening the power of the British pound they bring into the Kingdom for living, retirement or holidays.

Nonetheless, the overall impact on Thai exports should not be significant because the Thai outbound shipment to the UK represents only 1.5 percent of total Thai exports, according to the the think tank of Siam Commercial Bank.

Brexit may also prompt Thailand and the EU to renegotiate some trade deals such as import quota to the EU. Thailand may have to renegotiate the export quota with the EU on processed chicken, as an example. And Thailand may also have to negotiate another chicken export deal with the UK separately after the UK separation from the EU.

Auramon Supthaweethum, Director-General of Department of Trade Negotiations, said Brexit could complicate the process of Thai-EU free trade negotiation, which is scheduled to resume in the second half of this year.

“At any rate, after the Thai general election, Thailand is set to continue to negotiate with the EU on the Thai-EU free trade deal regardless of the UK decision.”

On the bright side, Brexit may prompt the UK investors to pay more attention to potential markets beyond the EU border. At present, direct investment from the UK to Thailand is small, accounting for only 3.5 percent of the total foreign direct investment, according to SCB.

Kasikorn Research Centre note that in addition to Brexit, Thai investors should take into account the consequences of the EU and Japan’s Economic Partnership Agreement which came into force last month.

The EPA could affect the exports of Thai automobile which is part of the Japanese’ supply chains. The EPA will end tariffs of auto and parts between Japan and EU by 2026.

Kasikorn Bank’s think tank says, in light of Brexit, some Japanese automakers will likely relocate some of their car production from the UK to other EU countries to maintain the EU trade privileges. Nissan and Honda have already flagged this probability.

Thus, the destinations for Thai exported automobiles and parts, which are part of the supply chains of Japanese automakers, may also change in accordance with Japanese automakers’ revised business strategy.

While the actual impacts on trade and investment remain to be seen, Brexit has been chiefly attributed to the volatility of the British pound since the referendum in 2016.

The SCB Economic Intelligence Centre say the weaker British pound could dampen the sentiment of British arrivals. They note that UK holidaymakers are among the high spenders in Thailand with 77,600 baht per trip.

“At any rate, since the receipts from British travelers represent only 2.1 percent of the total, the impact on the Thai tourism industry will be insignificant.”

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People have short memories. Why the Boeing 737 MAX will survive the current crisis.

The Thaiger

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People have short memories. Why the Boeing 737 MAX will survive the current crisis. | The Thaiger

If history is anything to go on people’s current fears about the Boeing 737 MAX jets will be short-lived.

The make0ver of the venerable 737 plane, the most popular passenger jet in history, was supposed to set Boeing on a path to success. Airlines said it was the plane they wanted – perfect for short-haul, cheap to run, new efficient engines.

Boeing didn’t go down the path of coming up with a new single-aisle jet to compete with the new Airbus 320 Neo series, instead they decided to come up with a revised 737. The revised plane has slightly larger and more powerful engines, is a little higher off the ground, features some new hi-tech construction materials making it lighter, upgraded avionics and, importantly, new software that was meant to make it even safer.

You can identify a 737 MAX because of the two-spoke winglets at the end of the wings.

Now two of the new series 737 MAX have crashed within six months with investigators speaking about ‘similarities’ in the early days of the crash investigation.

Travel site Kayak even added an option to screen out flights using the 737 Max jets.

If panic persisted, the media kept writing stories about it and airlines were unwilling to buy it, the future of Boeing would be in jeopardy.

That’s the current situation. But it also reflects a similar time during a four-month period in late 1965 and early 1966 when four new Boeing 727 jets crashed. Three of the crashes occurred while the planes were attempting to land at US airports. Two of them happened within three days of each other in November 1965. The 727 was the first commercial jet to fly with less than four jet engines.

Like the 737 MAX crashes, the US regulator, the FAA, defended the planes’ safety and refused to ground the 727s at the time. It issued a statement the day after the third fatal 727 crash, saying that it could find no pattern in the crashes. It declined to ground the jet.

At the time Boeing was still riding on its reputation built around the Boeing 707 jet, the first successful commercial passenger jet (the British Comet was the first commercial passenger jet in 1952 but had a series of catastrophic crashes from which it never recovered profitable sales).

Eventually the Civil Aeronautics Board, which was created in the wake of the crashes, cleared the 727 and blamed pilot error for the accidents. Pilots were not prepared to fly the 727, and that led to the crashes. The new wings of the revolutionary (for the time) 727 made the plane descend much faster than was possible in the past, giving pilots the chance to slow the planes down faster and land on much shorter runways than the jets of the time, a big selling point.

But the pilots at the controls of the four doomed jets in the 60s were apparently unprepared for how quickly the planes would descend with the new wings.

But Boeing did get past the 727 crisis. Increased training led to safer operation of the plane, and these kinds of crashes ended. Customers soon forgot.

The 727 went on to become the bestselling jet of its time for Boeing. It eventually sold 1,831 of the jets, a lot when flying in jets was still mostly reserved for the ‘jet set’ and people able to afford the expensive ticket prices of the time.

“I don’t know that people will care that much for very long,” says Shem Malmquist, a Boeing 727 and 777 Captain.

“They only worry about the price of the ticket.”

People have short memories. Why the Boeing 737 MAX will survive the current crisis. | News by The Thaiger

The Boeing 727 suffered four high-profile crashes in the mid 60s and went on to become a flying favourite.

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Rock Thailand, Japanese start-ups eye Thai businesses

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Rock Thailand, Japanese start-ups eye Thai businesses | The Thaiger

Noting Thailand as the new south east Asian regional innovation hub, the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok, in collaboration with Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, CP Group and True Corporation, launched Rock Thailand, a start-up incubation project.

Rock Thailand is being used to open a stage for 10 top technology start-ups from Japan to present their business models to 20 key Thai enterprises and take part in its networking session.

Japanese ambassador to Thailand, Shiro Sadoshima, said the Rock Thailand event is being held as part of Japan’s Open-Innovation Columbus project to support Japanese start-ups in the areas of innovation and knowledge exchange. The project began with the initiation of talks between leading Thai enterprises and Japanese start-ups.

Japan aims to promote cooperation between its start-ups and the Thai business community, said Pichet Durongkaveroj, minister of Digital Economy and Society, adding that this is what has led to the Open Innovation Columbus Project.

This is in line with the government’s Thailand 4.0 policy, which aims to drive the economy through innovations and digital transformation, including the Smart City project and development of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

Thailand is being seen as the new innovation hub of the region outside Japan – both in terms of trade and investment. Under the regime, small and medium enterprises stand to benefit from the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology to connect businesses in Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and the global market.

Suphachai Chearavanont, CEO of CP Group, said the corporation attaches importance to the nation’s digital transformation.

“Our vision is not just for our group of companies, but for Thailand as a whole. Thailand needs to invest in research and development for start-up businesses and their ecosystem.

“The collaboration with the Embassy of Japan and the Digital Economy and Society Ministry enables us to exchange views with successful Japanese start-ups. We believe the power of leading start-ups from Japan will support us in developing innovations and advanced technologies and escalate the country to its Thailand 4.0 vision,” he said.

The event was co-hosted by CP Group and True.

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