Some supposedly egregious examples. But I wanted to focus on this one:
$4.7 million for Lockheed Martin to study supersonic corporate jet travel
Now, I don’t know much about this money, or what its actual purpose is. Is it to just study the market? It’s not enough money to do anything serious in terms of advancing the tech, unless perhaps it’s for CFD.
But I don’t think that it’s necessarily intrinsically a bad thing for the federal government to be spending money on, though I think that it’s quite likely that the money will be wasted. More efficient supersonic jets are, after all, a green technology, and they could lead the way to cost-effective supersonic transports, so it could in theory be a good federal investment. The question is: is it appropriate for the government to be making such investments, or should we rely on the industry?
Well, the problem is that most of the industry, at least the big airframers like LM, don’t believe in R&D. At least not as a cost of doing business. They view it as a profit center — that is, they see it as simply another source of revenue, whether provided by the government, or some other customer. But they rarely put their own money into it. Neither does Boeing. Because for decades, they have become conditioned and inured to avoid it, instead going hat in hand to Uncle Sugar for R&D funds, which is happy to hand them out, even on boondoggles. I think that this is one of the reasons that we haven’t seen much aviation innovation — because the people who actually build airplanes aren’t willing to spend their own money on it. Of course, the regulatory and liability environment are also significant factors.
I assume that this is what is being referred to:
The work will focus on “systems-level experimental validation activities” and is part of the NASA aeronautics research mission directorate fundamental aeronautics programme’s supersonics project. Managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center, the supersonics project is to provide proven capabilities that address the efficiency, environmental and performance challenges of supersonic aircraft. The studies also seek to identify potential requirements for future supersonic aircraft, assess the effectiveness of technology today and identify new research opportunities.
As I said, don’t expect much useful to come from the money. I could do a lot more with it.