Boom’s one-third-scale prototype supersonic jet finally takes off

The private startup Boom has finally flown its third-scale prototype supersonic jet, dubbed XB-1, on its first short flight, taking off on March 22, 2024 from the flight test facility in Mojave, California.

Following behind was Test Pilot Tristan “Geppetto” Brandenburg in a T-38 chase plane to observe the flight and confirm altitude and speed. With a length of 62.6 feet (19 m) and a wingspan of 21 ft (6 m) , the XB-1 achieved an altitude of 7,120 ft (2,170 m) and speeds up to 238 knots (273 mph, 440 km/h) under the force of its three GE J85-15 engines generating a maximum thrust of 12,300 lbs.

According to Boom, once its aerodynamic characteristics and flight worthiness are confirmed, the XB-1 will increase speed until it is flying on later tests in excess of Mach 1.

This prototype supersonic test plane was first unveiled in 2020, four years ago, but runway taxi tests did not begin until 2023. I suspect the Wuhan panic contributed to the three year delay between unveiling and first tests, though this is speculation.

The goal is to build the first commercial superonic passenger plane since the Concorde. At present Boom has a contract from United for fifteen Boom 12-passenger planes, plus development deals with Boeing, and Japan Airlines.

Private commercial supersonic jet gains funding

A private commercial supersonic jet company, Boom Supersonic, has gained significant investment funding since it first revealed its design concept in March.

Boom, whose suppliers include General Electric Co, Boeing, Honeywell International Inc and Netherlands-based TenCate Advanced Composites, has reportedly received 76 pre-orders from airlines, excluding the option of up to 20 aircraft from Japan Airlines. As of March 2017, the firm had raised about $41 million (£30.5 million) in funding.

Yoshiharu Ueki, president of Japan Airlines, added: ‘Through this partnership, we hope to contribute to the future of supersonic travel with the intent of providing more “time” to our valued passengers while emphasising flight safety.’

The firm has previously revealed that initial test flights for its 1,451mph (2,330kph) aircraft, nicknamed ‘Baby Boom’, will begin by the end of 2018.

Including the JAL preorder that makes 96 airplane sales total. It appears that this company is increasingly for real.

Virgin Galactic signs deal for supersonic plane

The competition heats up: Virgin Galactic has signed a deal with Boom, the start-up company trying to build the first commercial supersonic passenger jet since the Concorde.

Boom, which has spent the past three months participating in Y Combinator’s startup accelerator program in Silicon Valley, has inked a deal with Virgin. As part of the deal, Virgin has taken an option in Boom’s first 10 planes, while Virgin Galactic, the private space exploration company, will assist with manufacturing and testing through its manufacturing arm, The Spaceship Company.

I hope Boom is more successful than Virgin Galactic in getting its project off the ground. If not, than it will be a long time before we see this plane take off.

New supersonic passenger plane coming?

Boom! A new aviation company thinks it can develop a new supersonic passenger plane with ticket prices far less than the Concorde’s.

If you’re ever stuck on a plane pining for the glory days of air travel, hop on YouTube and search for “the Concorde.” Among the results are a bunch of firsthand accounts of people sipping Champagne and scarfing down caviar on one of the bygone supersonic jets while they travel at 1,300 miles an hour. Try to appreciate the joy on their faces, or at least remember that they paid as much as $20,000 round trip, while you’re crammed into a middle seat with nothing but a dollop of hummus and a few overpriced crackers to get you through the next few hours.

Or perhaps find some solace in this: A Denver startup called Boom Technology plans to bring supersonic passenger travel back, and to bring it to the masses … ish. While the finished product is years away, on March 23, Boom will unveil its design for a 40-seat plane that can fly 1,451 mph (Mach 2.2). At that speed, a New York-to-London flight would take about 3 hours and 24 minutes. Blake Scholl, Boom’s founder and chief executive officer, says round-trip tickets will cost $5,000. “The idea is for a plane that goes faster than any other passenger plane built before, but for the same price as business class,” he says.

The project is barely past the PowerPoint stage, so color me skeptical. Nonetheless, I also believe it is possible, especially when I noticed in reading the article the similarities between between this company’s founder and that of SpaceX’s.