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Supersonic passenger flights – it may be here sooner than you think

When the Concorde supersonic airliner was retired in 2003, the dream of supersonic passenger flights faded away for most of us. Twenty years after the Concorde made its last flight, supersonic passenger flights may become reality again. That is at least what a company in Colorado, USA is trying to do.

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Rendering of the Boom supersonic passenger airliner. Courtesy of Boom Technology.

Boom Technology is collaborating with Virgin Galactic – the cutting edge space company lead by Sir Richard Branson – to develop a supersonic passenger airlines. Yesterday, their demonstrator XB-1 was unveiled at an event packed with big names in the aerospace community, including several Concorde pilots. Sir Richard Branson himself couldn’t attend, but said in a personal video message that he would have attended if he had had access to supersonic transportation.

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Sir Richard Branson had recorded a personal video message.

The XB-1 is a 1/3-scale version of the company’s supersonic airliner. The demonstrator prototype, nicknamed “Baby Boom”, is expected to fly next year. The full-scale airplane, expected to take flight in 2020 and reach the market in 2023, has a targeted top cruise speed of Mach 2.2, 10 % faster than the Concorde. It will enable business trips from New York to London and back home in a day. The Virgin Group is not only a collaborator in the development, the Virgin airline has already reserved the first 10 Boom aircraft. 

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Mock-up of the XB-1 demonstrator prototype.

The Concorde supersonic airliner was never profitable, so why should Boom succeed when Concorde didn’t? The Boom CEO Blake Scholl explained that new materials, better engines, and the vastly improved development tools such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD) will help create a much more efficient airplane. Lower fuel consumption, higher reliability and less maintenance will make Boom a winner.

The Boom supersonic airliner will have 45 seats, and the expected ticket price is similar to a current business or first class ticket. That means that a ride on the Boom supersonic airplane will be drastically cheaper than the Concorde, where a round trip London-New York ran about $20,000. The airplane will be 170 feet (52 meter) long and have a wing span of 60 ft (18 m).

The XB-1 demonstrator prototype will be 68 feet (21 meter) long, with a wingspan of of 17 ft (5.2 m). It will only carry two crew members, but will be able to reach the same speed as the full-scale airplane: Mach 2.2  (1451 mph or 2335 km/h).

As both Science Envy and Boom Technology are based in Colorado, USA, we will definitely follow this project closely. Perhaps we will be able to report from a ride on the airliner sometime in the future..? 🙂

For more information:

http://boomsupersonic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Boomaero/

Source: The Boom Technology launch event at Centennial Airport, Colorado, USA, November 15 2016.

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Concorde pilot Steve Bohill-Smith is one of very few pilots that have flown from London to New York in less than 3 hours. The highest speed he ever recorded in the Concorde was 1480 mph (2381 km/h).

 

 

 

About The Author
Eva Hakansson