Test Pilot Review: @Mars-Bound Hokie's B-343 Supersonic Transport
Figures as Tested:
Fuel: 10700 kallons
Cruising speed: 1000 m/s
Cruising altitude: 14000 m
Fuel burn rate: ~2-3 kal/s
Passengers Carried: 24 Passengers
Range: 3566-5350 km
The B-343 Supersonic Transport is a special craft with quite a unique appearance. It has quite stubby fuselage, made up by a small cabin, a fuel tank and a cargo ramp to form the tail. Using doubled canards with a quite crooked swept mid-fuselage-wing along with a space shuttle-like vertical stabilizer and cockpit. It also uses quite large rear landing gear The cockpit gives the pilots a good view of the runway and during flight. Some of the design features stand out, like the external struts going between the fuselage and the four engine blocks instead of any internal reinforcements, using four J-X4 Turbo Ramjets, shock cone intakes, fuel tanks, reaction wheels along with battery packs. In essence, it is a design that gives a mix of Sci-Fi vibes but still feeling a bit old-school due to the external struts.
Unfortunately, the B-343 does have a problem with turning being almost sluggish when turning. The roll rate is quite fast, almost fighter like due to every control surface participating in all axes available to it, trying to roll, pitch and yaw. It basically never handels well, and can put up to 3 Gees on passengers, decreasing comfort. It is a challenge to fly, especially for a long time but it can be worked around if autopilot software is used. Takeoff is quite slow to achieve, accelerating slow on the runway, and it wont rotate and takeoff under 100 m/s (360 km/h, 223 mph), limiting the airliner to airports using long runways. It could land at just over 80 m/s, but slowing down also takes some time.
During emergencies, the B-343 can be a nightmare to handle. If one of the outer engines are shut down, the airliner needs almost full rudder to keep straight. If two engines are shut down, the airliner becomes a powered glider as the engines can barley keep the plane going if it's not facing downwards, and without engines it has a hard time keeping in the air. It also has a hard time landing in water, stripping the wings of the fuselage at both tests. It does float quite good, compensating for the poor gliding. The B-343 doesn't have any special safety features.
The B-343 is quite costly, but inline with similar supersonic airliners. The maintenance of the B-343 could be costly due to structural stress during compression/decompression while climbing to the low pressure of 14 km. Stress from atmospheric friction could also lead to required repeated maintenance of the fuselage. The amount of landing gears could also be challenging to maintain along with the amount of control surfaces. Since the engines are integrated into the wings, replacing/repairing wings could be easy due to the wings being attached to the engine blocks, leading to a way of quickly replacing outer wings and engines at the same time. The plane is pretty efficient, but burns fuel a bit unevenly. Due to the multiple errors and design choices that could be easily fixed, TKA is recommended to not purchase any B-343's, but if another version with the previous issues fixed is released, TKA will consider purchasing 2-5 planes.