US airplane superiority is something I grew up with. Yes, Europe had the Concorde and although the planes were never profitable — costing European tax payers millions, the Concorde was the pinnacle of flight. I never flew on one but came close a while back. Alas, I never will fly in a Concorde now as they no longer fly.
Other than the Concorde, Boeing was always an airplane powerhouse and until recently they were the undisputed airplane king.
Now that the Concorde is gone, Europe has lost some bragging rights but in its place however may be a joint French/Japanese plane scheduled to be tested over Australia potentially by next month. JAXA or the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency crashed their last test plane 3 years ago but this test will not suffer the same fate according to Takaaki Akuto, a spokesman for JAXA.
A rocket will carry the new plane to an altitude of 12.4 miles and will fly at Mach 2 (for those of you that missed Top Gun, that is twice the speed of sound).
The cost for this run is about 10 million dollars or what NASA refers to as “petty cash for errands this week.” Of course this plane could crash like the last one did or it could eventually fly at Mach 5.5 which is the theoretical speed of a new Japanese engine. BTW it would take all of four hours to get from Tokyo to LA at Mach 2 according to this article. My back of the napkin calculations show at Mach 5 the flight takes an hour and a half.
So if this test plane makes it, the question I have to ask is why we aren’t publicizing that we have something better, faster and stronger than everyone else being developed in the US? Sure I understand the plight of the US airline industry but I assume that companies like Boeing and agencies like NASA should be working together or separately to make sure the next generation of planes are manufactured by US based companies.
I shudder to think that in five years we will see articles comparing Japan’s aerospace efforts to Boeing’s the same as we compare Toyota and GM and Ford today.