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alone. Studies on the decrease in ozone resulting from the nitrogen compounds in SST exhaust products are under way at the University of Colorado under the direction of Professor Julius London.
(3) The time period of at least ten years quoted by Dr. Newell to obtain “intelligent answers" to these problems appears to me to be a realistic time scale if research on the problem continues at its present rate. Global measurements of ozone and water vapor concentration over the whole stratosphere, and their variation with time for a period of at least one year and preferably two years ur more, are needed, and will not be completed until 1975–1976 time frame, according to my knowledge of present plans. A number of additional years will be required to complete calculations based on the measurements, and then to interpret the results. If a decision is taken that the measurements are urgently required the process can be speeded up. It is my belief that then a definitive answer could be obtained in five years.
Tomorrow at 10 o'clock, we will continue hearings by witnesses in opposition to the SST and at 2 o'clock we are going to have a movie that will be exhibited by Astronaut Neil Armstrong and at 2:30 we will hear witnesses for the proponents of the SST.
We stand in recess until 10 a.m. tomorrow.
(Whereupon, at 7:15 p.m., Wednesday, March 10, the hearing was recessed to reconvene at 10 a.m., Thursday, March 11.)
CIVIL SUPERSONIC AIRCRAFT DEVELOPMENT (SST)
THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 1971
Washington, D.C. The committee met at 10:05 a.m., in room 1224, New Senate Office Building, Hon. Allen J. Ellender (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senators Ellender, Magnuson, Stennis, Bible, Proxmire, Inouye, Young, Smith, Allott, Case, and Percy.
OPPONENTS TO DEVELOPMENT
STATEMENT OF DR. GEORGE RATHJENS, MASSACHUSETTS
INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Chairman ELLENDER. The committee will please come to order. This morning, we shall continue to hear from the opponents of SST. The names of the witnesses have been furnished by Senator Proxmire, the first of whom this morning is Dr. George Rathjens.
Chairman ELLENDER. All right, Doctor, you have a prepared statement?
Dr. RATHJENS. Yes, I do, Senator.
Dr. RATHJENS. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I am honored by this invitation to appear before you to comment on the question of whether or not the SST program should continue to be supported by the Federal Government as it has been for the last several years. I come with some hesitancy because I am not an expert on any particular part of this controversy. But I am here nevertheless because I feel it is an important public policy issue, some facets of which have not been as fully explored as I think they should be.
ECONOMIC RISKS AND ADVISABILITY OF GOVERNMENT INVESTMENT
I would like to withhold any comments on the environmental (and many other) aspects of the problem until the question period, focusing on at this time: (1) The question of the economic risks in going
ahead with the SST, and; (2) whether the venture makes sense as a Government investment in light of the risks involved.
Recent statements by Government spokesmen, particularly by Mr. Magruder before the House Subcommittee on Transportation on March 1, paint such a glowing picture of the SST that one wonders that private money sources are not falling all over themselves trying to finance the venture. Of course, they are not and the reason is that there is a very high probability that the optimistic projections of the FAA will not be realized. Indeed, a very recent Boeing advertisement characterizes it as a high-risk investment.
Any of a number of adverse developments could result in the program being a financial disaster. What I would like to do in the next few minutes is to discuss the sensitivity of the economic feasibility of the SST to a few of the critical factors about which there is uncertainty.
I would start by noting that the success of the SST is far more dependent on a favorable resolution of uncertainties than is generally the case with subsonic aircraft. This is a fundamental point which follows directly from the fact that the payload is small and the fuel requirements large compared to subsonic aircraft. Thus, the presently planned payload of the SST is only about 7 percent of the gross weight compared with about 14 percent for the 747 and the fuel consumed per seat-mile will be over twice as much.
This means that the economic feasibility of the SST will be much more sensitive to fuel costs, fuel consumption, and uncertainties in weight than for an aircraft like the 747. While FAA analyses are based on no increase in fuel costs, this seems like a dubious assumption considering the growth in energy demands and the difficulties in price negotiations with many of the petroleum producing countries.
Any increase in fuel costs will hurt the SST doubly: In an absolute sense in the effect of increased costs on air travel, and in a relative sense as compared with subsonic competition which will be less sensitive to fuel cost escalation. Far more serious would be changes in fuel consumption or structural weight.
A increase in fuel consumption of only 1 percent will apparently result in a reduction in SST payload of about 5 percent (2,500 pounds) and an increase in structural weight of 1 percent could result in an even greater payload degradation.
Let me now relate the question of sensitivity of performance to some of the very recent discussions of the noise problem.
In the last few days we have heard that with the use of noise suppressors and with appropriate engine modifications it will be possible to reduce noise during takeoff, and particularly sideline noise, to acceptable levels-presumably 108 pndb. This has been announced as if it were a breakthrough in dealing with the noise problem, but it is hardly that.
The real problem is not simply whether noise can be reduced to acceptable levels, but rather whether it can be done without a hopelessly adverse effect on the economics of the SST. It has been conceded that noise reduction will result in increased weight, increased drag, and reduced engine efficiency.
How serious this will be is not clear, and according to Boeing spokes men, will not be clear until production specifications are developed
in mid-1972. (In fact, it will not be really clear until production aircraft are actually built.)
In this respect the Congress is being asked to buy a pig-in-a-poke. That the problem will be very serious is already certain. According to Boeing, for each decibel in noise reduction there will be a range penalty of about 50 miles. Alternatively, in order to avoid sacrificing range, payload could be reduced-perhaps by 2000 pounds per decibel. To get sideline noise down to 108 decibel could mean a range reduction of 800 miles-enough to preclude the use of the aircraft on most of the high density routes on which it is now planned to use it, or by reducing the payload by perhaps a third. The presently established range-payload profile could, of course, be achieved by increasing the overall weight of the aircraft but this is a complicated process and may involve major redesign.
Let me turn now to an even greater area of uncertainty. The FAA has projected a demand for 500 SST's and most of their defense of the program has been predicated on that number. However, the number is very uncertain and in the opinion of many may not be reached on anything like the time scale projected by the FAA.
It, of course, depends directly on how rapidly demand for air traffic will increase. Most of the projections of demand have assumed something like a 10-percent increase in air traffic per year—a number that may be reasonable enough but which could very likely be off by 1 or 2 percent. Such are the laws of compound interest that if growth is only 9 percent instead of 10 percent to the 1990's demand will be only 80 percent of that projected.
At least as critical is the question of how the future market will be partitioned between supersonic and subsonic aircraft. This will, of course, depend on whether a premium will have to be charged to make the SST a moneymaker, and if so on what premium people will pay for speed
In this connection, the latest FAA statement claiming that the SST is a more productive aircraft than the 747 may be somewhat misleading. It no doubt will be on a per aircraft basis if it can be flown as the FAA claims, but note that two 747's can be bought for the price of one SST and that if one computes productivity per dollar invested, the SST looks much less impressive.
In fact, the FAA's figures suggest that if the load factors were the same for the SST and the 747, there would have to be a 10- to 12percent surcharge on fares for the former for the airlines to realize the same return on their investment.
Actually, the situation is much worse than this figure suggests for it is based on comparing a 1970 aircraft (the 747) with a 1978 aircraft (the SST), and if one assumes normal improvement in efficiency in subsonic design and compares the SST with a 1978 subsonic aircraft, the required fare surcharge to achieve the same rate of return would be perhaps more like 25 percent. Under these circumstances, can the SST make money?
Perhaps it can if enough people value their time savings highly enough. This may be true of business traffic but it is certainly doubtful in the case of tourists who constitute roughly 75 percent of the traffic on what would be the SST's most lucrative route—that across the North Atlantic.