Written by: Mary Shull
Ever flown in a commercial airplane? If you’re one of the 637 million (U.S. statistics for 2011) who fly each year, your answer would be “yes.” People do love to fly. I mean, come on, what other choice do we have? It’s the fastest mode of transportation available to us. It’s said that flying in an airplane is even safer than driving your car! Statistics show that 1 out of 6,800 drivers die in an auto accident each year, while only 1 out 1.6 million die of an airplane crash.
But let’s take a look at the airplane. While it may be safer than a car, what has been done to modernize the speed of a commercial airplane in the last 20 years? The first powered flight by the Wright Brothers was in 1903. We had the first commercial jet airliner reach production in 1949. Then in 1969, the Boeing 747 was produced and has remained one of the most successful aircraft produced. However, its normal cruising speed is only 550 miles per hour. Sadly, one of the fastest commercial airplanes, the Concorde, was retired in 2003. It was able to fly at Mach 2.02 or 1,330 miles per hour.
So, it’s said that we can’t have a commercial airplane go faster than it currently does because we would then create a sonic boom which is what the Concorde produced. But the Concorde produced this over the ocean so as not to disturb the public. So the question I still ask is, “Why have we stagnated? Why hasn’t man been able to develop a breakthrough in the last 60 years in airplane design or its effect on the speed of sound?” Am I the only one that finds this amazing? I feel like we are standing still in time. Where are our scientific breakthroughs? Sixty years is a long time!
NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has said that business jets may lead the way in 2015 with passenger air travel at speeds faster than sound. And in 2025, a small supersonic airliner may follow that could transport around 75 people. However, a larger one could follow in another five years.
So, let’s see…in another 18 years we may see a commercial airplane that could get us to our destination faster? I guess I just expect more from humankind. I would like to see humans reach their full potential. We have such a long way to go and it seems we have taken many steps backward in the last 11 years. Let’s go forward. Let’s stretch ourselves. Let’s reach for the stars again! We may discover many great things along the way!