Boom Supersonic on Wednesday presented its XB-1 supersonic aircraft demonstrator, which is expected to take off by the end of next year. The planned date for the entry into service of Overture, a device capable of carrying around 75 passengers in 3:45 between Paris and Montreal, is expected by 2030.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and controversy over the future of air transport, the Denver-based company unveiled its XB-1 demonstrator at Centennial Airport on October 7, 2020, one-third the size of the one aiming to become the successor to Concorde. Measuring 21.6 meters long with a wingspan of 6.4 meters, the prototype can only accommodate the pilot. Equipped with three GE J85-15 engines, it will undergo ground tests before taking off – a priori – in the third quarter of 2021 at Mojave Air and Space Port and reaching a speed of Mach 1.3.
Commenting on this new phase of the project launched in 2016, Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl said that this rollout “marks the transition from the design, development and construction phase to testing”. « We will be supersonic by the end of next year, » he added. That’s about a year later than the company’s original plans.
If the XB-1 passes its tests successfully, Boom will be scaled up with Overture, a commercial aircraft that can between 65 and 88 passengers depending on the arrangements of the airlines, at a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 (only above oceans). Theoretically reducing the flight time between New York and London to 3:30 instead of 7, between Los Angeles and Sydney at 6:45 instead of 15, or between Seattle and Tokyo at 4:30 instead of 8:30. The engines are expected to be signed by Rolls Royce, following the « exploration » agreement signed in July. Its first take-off is expected in 2029, seven years later than originally planned.
The start-up has so far registered around thirty pre-orders at $ 200 million each, from the Virgin Group and Japan Airlines; over $ 160 million has been raised to date. Several investment funds as well as American technology groups such as Google, Airbnb, or Dropbox are supporting the project; its leader assures us that it will be the first « economically viable » supersonic aircraft.
Recall that the Concorde, which flew for the first time in 1969 and entered service in 1976, ended its career in 2003, three years after the crash of an Air France aircraft shortly after takeoff in Paris (113 victims).