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Boeing 2707 SST

The Boeing 2707 SST was to be the first American supersonic airliner. It would have been built at the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington. President John F. Kennedy committed the government to subsidizing the development of a commercial airliner to compete with the Concorde & Russia's TU-144. Ultimately, Boeing's swing-wing design was selected as the winner of the US SST competition. They called their SST the Model 2707. Whereas the Concorde and TU-144 cruised at M = 2.2 to 2.4, and the Boeing design cruised at M = 2.7, hence 2707.

In the early 1960s, the Bristol Aeroplane Company (which later became part of the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC)) in England and Sud-Aviation (which later became Aerospatiale) in France were both working on designs for a supersonic passenger airliner. They both came up with very similar designs for a delta-wing aircraft which could carry about 100 passengers and fly at about Mach 2.2 (1,400 mph). They also both discovered that the development costs of such an aircraft would be so high that neither nation could afford to build it. In November 1962, an international agreement was signed which would allow BAC and Sud-Aviation to jointly build the aircraft, and the governments of Britain and France would share the development costs. Thus, the Concorde was born.

At that time, unknown to anyone in the Western World, the Soviet Union was also working on a supersonic transport (SST) known as the TU-144. The TU-144 was very similar to the Concorde in size and shape, but was designed to fly a little faster at Mach 2.35 (1,500 mph).

The SST took shape as a response to the joint Anglo-French venture, the Concorde. Like the 747, the push for supersonic commercial flight demanded heavy dollops of advanced technology. The Concorde and SST programs were marked by politics. The politics featured international agreements, competing centers of influence in Washington, congressional hearings, and the rise of environmentalism as a major popular movement.

This challenge was too serious for President Kennedy to ignore. The United States, not to be outdone, decided to enter the SST competition. America's planebuilders had nothing like Concorde in the offing. Moreover, there was never any prospect that an American SST would go forward as a purely commercial venture, with corporations raising the needed funds through bank loans and sales of securities. The costs of an SST would be too great, as were the technical uncertainties. In addition to this, airline executives, busily purchasing the current generation of jets, were far from thrilled at the thought of being stampeded into a supersonic era.

The Concorde and the TU-144 already had a head start. The program launched in 1963, and the Federal Aviation Administration estimated that by 1990 there would be a market for 500 of the craft. Due to its late start, it was evident that the 2707 could not beat either the British or the Russian SST into service and lost both public and government support.

The project was eventually canceled before the 2707 ever flew. Political, economic, and environmental factors led the United States to cancel the project. In March 1971, the US Senate rejected further funding and the project was cancelled 20 May 1971. At the time, there were 122 unfilled orders by 26 airlines, including PanAm, Continental, American Airlines and TWA. The two prototypes were never completed.

The B2707-300 mockup was disassembled and shipped to Central Florida, where it sat in a scrapyard on Merritt Island near Kennedy Space Center for 19 years. The owner of the mockup, Mr. Bell, died suddenly and his aerospace relics and treasures were auctioned off. The translating nose and forward fuselage was purchased and partially reassembled for display at the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, California. The remainder of the mockup was destroyed. The details of the demise of the B2707-200 mockup are unknown.

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