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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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Bangkok

Container with radioactive waste being stored at Laem Chabang port

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Container with radioactive waste being stored at Laem Chabang port | The Thaiger

An unknown amount of radioactive waste has been detected inside an export container at the Laem Chabang Deep Seaport, just north of Pattaya, Chon Buri.

The port’s deputy director, Vice Admiral Yutthana Mokkhao, says the waste is being kept in the safety zone at the port which is equipped to handle radioactive situation and it is being handled by officials from Thailand’s Institute of Nuclear Technology (TINT).

The waste was detected by x-ray officials and TINT was alerted on Thursday. Yutthana said TINT intended to remove the radioactive waste for disposal by Friday but the operation could not be completed on time. The operation resumed yesterday, he said.

The container belongs to the Aftermath Stainless Steel and Metal Recycling Company.

Yutthana did not specify the amount or type of radioactive waste.

The Nation reports that, normally, radioactive waste could be a by-product of electricity generating by nuclear reactors or it could come from medical radiating machines.

Container with radioactive waste being stored at Laem Chabang port | News by The Thaiger

STORY: The Nation

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Bangkok

Thailand’s first Apple store opens along the Chao Phraya at the new Iconsiam

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thailand’s first Apple store opens along the Chao Phraya at the new Iconsiam | The Thaiger

The new Iconsiam building is open along the banks of the Chao Phraya along with a stunning new Apple Store, the first in Thailand. One of the features of the new store is the play on the Apple logo which makes it look like a letter of the Thai alphabet, a first such departure for the usually rigorous Apple style-sheet.

The new Apple Iconsiam seamlessly connects the new mixed-use IconSiam Centre to an outdoor roof terrace. The store’s clean, trapezoidal design lines and glass surfaces accentuate the natural beauty of its surroundings while creating an open, airy atmosphere erasing boundaries between interior and exterior.

Apple Iconsiam, the first Apple Store in Thailand, opens today in Bangkok at the city’s newest and largest shopping centre, IconSiam Centre.

The store features Apple’s full line of products, including iPhone XS, iPhone XR and Apple Watch Series 4, invites visitors to pursue their creative passions with free Today at Apple sessions. Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, said that Bangkok is a cultural and economic destination for the entire region, which hosts millions of passionate Apple customers.

Thailand's first Apple store opens along the Chao Phraya at the new Iconsiam | News by The Thaiger

“We are thrilled to introduce our Thai customers to Today at Apple, our full line of products, our phenomenal employees and the service and support that is loved by customers around the world,” gushed Ahrendts.

Denny Tuza, senior market director, Asia Pacific Retail for Apple, notes that the design features two expansive glass facades that create transparency through the store and to the river, the city and beyond.

As customers walk in through a sweeping curve stone entry, their journey continues to the lush roof garden, where they can admire local art, participate in a Today at Apple photo or sketch walks, or simply enjoy iconic views of Bangkok.

Inside the store, a spacious forum offers all of Apple’s free Today at Apple sessions, which he says Apple expects will inspire visitors to connect with one another, discover a new passion or take their skills to the next level. People can sign up for Today at Apple sessions at apple.com/th/today. These hands-on sessions, led by creative pros, offer tools for all to explore their creative curiosity and learn to make the most of Apple products and services.

Thailand's first Apple store opens along the Chao Phraya at the new Iconsiam | News by The Thaiger

STORY: The Nation

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Business

Thai Airways doubles up on 2017 losses

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai Airways doubles up on 2017 losses | The Thaiger

Thai Airways has doubled up on losses for the past three months (Q3), compared to the same period last year. They’ve reported an operating loss of 3.69 billion baht, up 103% year-on-year.

The total revenue was actually up 2.2%, according to a statement from the Thai Airways president, Sumeth Damrongchaitham, but the operating costs were up 1.87 billion baht, compared with the same period in 2017.

He put the dismal profit report down to natural disasters, decreasing numbers of Chinese tourists and rising oil prices.

Whilst noting that the third quarter each year is usually airlines’ ‘low season’ in Thailand, he said fuel prices were up 5.5% this year along with rising costs of maintenance and overhaul.

Sumeth mentioned a few milestone events in Q3, including the Typhoon Jebi that hit Japan, disrupting flights, an earthquake in Hokkaido and Typhoon Mangkhut which hit Hong Kong – all key routes for the national airline.

But, more than the other events, the general drop in Chinese tourists choosing Thai Airways was the main shock to the airline’s bottomline during the period.

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