Supersonic Passenger Jet Travel Could Return in 2020 with Boom Technology

Commercial travelers haven’t had a supersonic option since the Concorde stopped flying in 2003, ending 3.5 hour trips from New York to Paris. Boom thinks it can make supersonic passenger jet flight cost-effective for any airliner, across more routes. Boom CEO Blake Scholl.

Air and space startup Boom Technology says Long flights are a barrier to travel. But Boom is intent on removing that barrier, turning 8 hour redeyes into 3-4 hour daytime flights. Excruciating 16-hour journeys become easy overnights, according to Boom, which is aiming to create a 45-passenger civilian supersonic transport aircraft to fly up to Mach 2.2 (1,451 mph, 1,261 knots, 2,335 km/h). Conceptually the Boom Technology aircraft could fly from New York City to London in 3 hours and 24 minutes. The plane could seat 55 passengers in a higher-density configuration.

Denver-based Boom expects to charge $5,000 round trip from New York to London. A ticket for the Concorde (available in the 1970s) cost passengers about $15,000 in today’s dollars.

Current regulations prevent companies like Boom from offering supersonic flights between California and New York, or anywhere over the continental United States. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would need to overturn its ban on overland travel of supersonic passenger aircraft.

If overland transportation from New York to San Francisco were legal, the trip would be 2 hours and 20 minutes, according to Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl.

Is Boom Technology The Future of Supersonic Flight?

Boom Technology says there are over 500 routes that are viable for supersonic passenger travel, such as San Francisco to Tokyo, Seattle to Shanghai, Los Angeles to Sydney — not just New York to London like the Concorde.

There are several private competitors working on supersonic travel, and NASA is also working with aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies company Lockheed Martin, to develop a supersonic passenger jet.

Boom’s demonstrator jet or “Baby Boom” (one-third scale or one-third the size of the final project) is expected to cost roughly $30 million compared to NASA’s plane, which is expected to cost at least $300 million when completed.

Boom revealed its design for the XB-1 demonstrator jet November 2016 and is working with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to build and test the prototype in 2017. Boom and Virgin Galactic aim to begin flying commercial air passengers in the early 2020s.

“We’re fans of speed, so we’re doing this as quickly as possible,” states Scholl. Boom speculates that if supersonic flight can catch on with business travelers, market forces will do their work by improving technology and bringing down costs. If Scholl is right, supersonic flight might be accessible to more people than the super-elite of the Concorde era.

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