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The question: Concorde

The Concorde crash could signal the end of dramatic supersonic flight and usher in the era of profitable super jumbos. Is this a sign that engineering innovation is being stifled by accountants or are commercial practicalities taking precedence?

I do not believe the terrible Concorde crash will be a significant influence in stifling engineering design. This crash had more to do with safe operational procedures than failure of innovation. Anyway, why should we assume the era of efficient huge jumbos will require any less innovation from engineers to make it succeed ? I would greatly fear an accident involving a superjumbo carrying 500 passengers and would hope it was full of engineering skill and innovation to avoid this.

Peter Lane, 38, water engineer, Yorkshire Development of the new Airbus and super jumbo represents a great opportunity for engineers to be innovative in stretching the technology of both aircraft design and airport design and operation (in which I work).

The question seems to be: can engineers use innovation without being spectacular? I think they can. An engineer should always have commercial practicalities in mind when designing but innovation gives a commercial edge to projects.

Paul Boynton, 47, general manager engineering, Gatwick Airport How important is the ability to play golf to the success of your career as a civil engineer?

Commercial operation of Concorde has promoted and secured the technical ability of British and French engineers to the world. It is unfortunate that when profits are required in a very competitive business, the first items to be sacrificed are often the aesthetic qualities of our products. I would suggest that pressures of failure are to blame and not accountants (who merely facilitate the process).

Craig Rawlinson, 25, senior engineer, Bristol Innovation is unlikely to be stifled if engineers and architects can prove the added value of new ideas to clients.

Accountants probably hold the purse strings more tightly than they did but innovators have always needed to market their products. If this can be done, innovation should not suffer.

Patricia Carr, 28, geotechnical engineer, Hammersmith Engineering enthusiasts will always attempt to get their ideas developed whatever the commercial realities. Secondly, as life gets ever more complex, it will require larger groupings of national or multinational enterprises to afford many of the new developments.

Steve Orchard, 50, director, Stratford upon Avon Technical achievement for its own end is pointless unless the end product meets customer demand and price range. While Concorde was being developed Boeing had a different vision of its customers' futures and developed the 747. We can all see how Boeing has profited from that while British and French taxpayers suffered.

Patrick Waterhouse, 32, project director, Manchester

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