Boeing Sonic Cruiser—Breakthrough Airliner That Never Flew


Bad Ass (looking) concept.


Indeed—note the “area rule” squeeze of the fuselage at the back where the wings get wide to reduce drag in the transonic regime.

When the Sonic Cruiser was proposed, an aerodynamics greybeard opined in Aviation Week that the design, with uprated engines, could cruise at Mach 2 over the oceans, should they decide there was a market need for speed.


Certainly an impressive looking design. Interesting point about the constraints on speed imposed by air traffic control – flights on busy routes effectively end up in a convoy situation, travelling at the speed of conventional aircraft.

From the passenger’s perspective, it seems that the real scope for useful speed is not so much in the air but on the ground. New York to London might be approximately a 7-8 hour flight – but the passenger is faced with showing up at the airport 2 hours before flight time, and getting out of London airport probably takes at least 1.5 hours – plus the helpful folks at Heathrow will probably lose your bags. It should surely be within human capacity to cut those 3-4 hours of ground time in half. And then we could beg the Chinese to build us a MagLev train like the one at Shanghai to cut the time from airport to the city. Dreams!