The abbreviation “SST” stands for “Supersonic Transport,” and is used to describe a league of aircraft that transport passengers at speeds exceeding the speed of sound. Put more simply, supersonic speeds. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, it was believed that the next natural step in civilian aviation would be a market for airliners exceeding Mach 1. This was only partially true.
The Americans raced to design the best supersonic transport concepts they could to win the government contract of 75% subsidization. In addition, the Russians were racing to produce their answer to the Anglo-French Concorde. Unfortunately, it resulted in a battle with industrial espionage.
It wasn’t the end of it. The Americans would drop their programs in favor of subsonic aircraft, and the Russians would face the consequences of their failed design. Concorde orders would be cancelled as a result of over-land supersonic flight bans. The supersonic dream’s future was precariously hanging in the balance.
Despite the political rush to produce the world’s fastest and most advanced commercial airliner, only two supersonic transports ever left the ground. The Anglo-French Concorde and Russian TU-144. Only one would go on to fly successfully, which was Concorde.
To this day, several supersonic airliner concepts are in development. Several studies have been carried out during the duration of Concorde’s lifespan.
Although both existing supersonic airliners have been retired for years, their respective legacies continue to impact aviation lovers and individuals within the industry today. Moreover, their marks in the history books continue to inspire next generation high-speed airliners.
Stay tuned to Speedbird Concorde for the best documentation of all supersonic airliner concepts, as well as the best of Concorde.