Boom Technologies expects to start subsonic flight tests of its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator in late 2017. The engineering design was unveiled at the company’s Centennial airport facility in Denver, Colorado, on November 15. Dubbed “Baby Boom,” the delta wing aircraft is a one-third scale demonstrator for a small supersonic airliner which Boom aims to certificate for commercial service by 2023.
Boom Technology has spent two years designing a supersonic passenger plane with the financial economics the defunct Concorde could never achieve. A full-size mockup of a smaller test plane was unveiled publicly on Tuesday. If all goes well in flight tests next year, the company will move ahead and build a full-size 45-seat aircraft that can travel 2.2 times faster than the speed of sound at a price on par with business-class tickets: $5,000 round trip for a 3 hour and 15 minute flight from New York to London.
“This isn’t a private jet,” said Boom CEO Blake Scholl, who co-founded the company in 2014 with chief engineer Joe Wilding and chief technology officer Josh Krall. “We want to build something that we can see our friends and family flying on. We’re starting with business-class prices because that’s what we have technology for. But our line of sight is we want to make the fastest ticket the cheapest ticket.”
On Tuesday, guests will see the exact design of “Baby Boom.” About one-third the size of the full-sized plane, this two-passenger plane measures 70 feet long and has all the curves you’d imagine a supersonic jet should have. It has a distinctive long skinny nose and streamlined wings that barely angle away from the fuselage. While this baby will never fly, parts for the real Baby Boom are being manufactured in North Carolina and will find their way to Hangar 14 next year. The real baby is expected to begin flight tests in late 2017. If all goes well, Boom’s passenger supersonic jet could fly its first paying customers in the 2020s.
Boom has estimated that they could sell 1,300 aircraft. This projection, Boyd said, is despite the U.S. ban on noisy super sonic booms, or the sound an object makes when it travels faster than the speed of sound. If the U.S. and other countries got rid of the over-the-land sonic-boom ban — Boom’s plane
noise is at 85 decibels or slightly louder than a garbage disposal — Boyd said the number of planes sold could be double or more.
Planes will also be made of carbon-fiber composites, which are lighter than the aluminum used in the Concorde. Carbon fiber can also be modeled into any shape and is better at taking the heat of a supersonic flight (“That’s why our aircraft can fly 10 percent faster than a Concorde,” Scholl said.
Scholl won’t say how much investment Boom has received. But partners include Virgin Galactic, which has already reserved the first 10 airplanes produced — at $200 million each.
The Boom plan is for total operating cost per-seat mile that is comparable to subsonic business class.
A major problem with Concorde is that it had more seats than could be filled at the required prices. The Boom aircraft has 45 seats, similar to the premium cabin in a typical widebody aircraft. If you can fly a widebody aircraft with good load factor, you can also fly a Boom aircraft with the same schedule with good load factors.
SOURCES- Aviation Week, Boom Technology, Denver Post