Why aren’t planes getting faster?
The time it takes to fly from Los Angeles to New York is the same today as it was 40 years ago. Why is that? In 1973, the Federal Aviation Administration banned supersonic flight over the continental United States. The result, argues Eli Dourado and Michael Kotrous, is that there has been virtually no innovation in airplane speeds since that time.
“The outright ban limited the market for the Concorde to transoceanic routes and destroyed incentives for research and development of new supersonic transports. Since 1973, airplane manufacturers have innovated on margins other than speed, and as a result, commercial flight is safer and cheaper than it was 40 years ago. But commercial flight isn’t any faster—in fact, today’s flights travel at less than half the Concorde’s speed. If we want to restore mid-century levels of aviation innovation and break the sound barrier again, we must first break regulatory barriers.”
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