Contenders Push A New Supersonic Age

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We have lived to see a day without commercial supersonic flight. But it's an idea that won't go away, despite the demise of the Concorde. The French and Japanese are working to launch a test model of a supersonic aircraft in the Australian desert this Friday -- presuming they have fixed an "anomaly" with the aircraft's signal processor that cropped up during ground testing in August. Meanwhile, Airbus is developing a design for a 250-seat plane that could fly close to 1,500 mph with a 6,000-mile range, London's Sunday Times reported last week. During a recent conference at Cambridge University, researchers said that new supersonic passenger jets could by flying by 2015, and by 2050 supersonic travel could account for 20 percent of all flights. Aircraft makers Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Dassault, Gulfstream and Sukhoi have all announced plans for such airplanes, the Times said. Meanwhile, the Save Concorde group in the U.K. continues to lobby for at least one of the retired fleet to be restored to flight status for the London 2012 Olympic Games. It was just 36 years ago -- October 1, 1969 -- that the Concorde broke the sound barrier for the first time, in a test flight over France. There are still plenty of supersonic military jets flying around the world -- on Aug. 20,