Boom’s chief test pilot on the thrill and challenge of going supersonic “again”
Supersonic passenger jet firm raises $100 million, aims for 2019 test flights. Company says it remains on track for mid-2020s delivery of new planes.
Supersonic startup Boom plans to begin test flights this year ahead of a commercial debut for its needle-like Overture jet in 2023.
With an array of Silicon Valley investors tipping a fresh US$100m into Boom’s bank account, the company aims to send its XB-1 demonstrator into the skies before this year is out.
Dubbed ‘Baby Boom’, the two-seater XB-1 is being built to one-third the size of the Overture and will redline at Mach 2.2, or 2,715km/h.
This will lay the foundation for the larger Overture, which will reach the same speeds – making it slightly faster than the Concorde.
This will allow the Overture to sprint between New York and London or Sydney and Hong Kong in under four hours, while longer routes such as Sydney to LA would be trimmed to around six hours.
The Boom Overture is designed to seat 55 passengers in an all-business class cabin, with a single recliner seat either side of the centre aisle.
However, airlines would also be able to order the Overture in a two-class configuration pairing 15 business class seats with 30 spacious first class suites.
Those are envisaged as offering an ottoman which provides companion dining and, if you need some shut-eye, there’s room to stretch out on a lie-flat bed.
Boom founder and CEO expects his modern tech-forward update of the Concorde to deliver airfares in line with current business class pricing while slashing travel time in half.
And the name given to this first supersonic jet is quite deliberate, as Scholl believes the Overture will be only the first in a series of aircraft which will progressively become larger, faster and more affordable for airlines and passengers alike. “The vision here is to make supersonic travel mainstream,” he says.
Key to this will be engine and being technology which reduce the sonic boom to more of a ‘thump’ – something which NASA is also working on – while also aiming to make Overture’s takeoffs and landings as quiet as conventional subsonic aircraft.
To date only two airlines have publicly backed Boom, with Japan Airlines investing $10 million and earmarking an option to buy up to 20 Overtures, while Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic has options for 10 more.