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I just read the report on the BBC about a new design for a more fuel-efficient and quiter passenger jet that has been designed by MIT and Cambridge Univeristy. The accompanying video report says that the new jet is 25 years off from being put into production, if it ever gets there. This seems like a very long time, especially given the pressing need to cut fuel emissions of one of the greatest polluting forms of transport in the world. It got me wondering how long Concorde took to get from conception to being put into service. I figure that Concorde is worthy of comparison since it was a revolutionary and very divergent design from previous passenger aircraft of the time. The wikipedia article on Concorde says that impetus for creating a supersonic passenger aircraft arrived in the late 50’s. Following this through to the first scheduled flight in 1976 the entire process from start to finish took 19 years (making a generous assumption that “late 50’s” means 1957). This means that it now takes at least 6 more years to produce a new aircraft design – from conception to having paying customers on seats – than it did around 50 years ago.


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