Boom Technology has unveiled a prototype supersonic passenger jet, capable of flying at Mach 2.2 (more than twice the speed of sound). The three-engine, 50-seat aircraft would be able to make a transatlantic flight in a similar time to British Airways’ Concorde, which reached speeds of Mach 2.0.
Concorde planes were one of only two supersonic passenger flights ever available, and could fly from London to New York in about 3 hours and 30 minutes. But the jets were put out of service in 2003, after a crash in 2000 killed more than 100 people and the 9/11 attacks in 2001 dampened the enthusiasm for air travel.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will help with manufacturing and flight testing of the Boom Technology jet, which aims to be in the skies by 2023.
“I have long been passionate about aerospace innovation and the development of high-speed commercial flights,” said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group in a press release. “As an innovator in the space, Virgin Galactic’s decision to work with Boom was an easy one. We’re excited to have an option on Boom’s first 10 airframes. Through Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing arm, The Spaceship Company, we will provide engineering and manufacturing services, along with flight test support and operations as part of our shared ambitions.”
The company aims to make supersonic travel more affordable than Concorde, which was aimed at people willing to spend thousands to shave off a couple of hours on their flight over the Atlantic. Boom wants to make flights about the same price as business class. Testing is expected to begin in 2017.
“60 years after the dawn of the jet age, we’re still flying at 1960s speeds,” Blake Scholl, chief executive officer and founder of Boom said in a press release. “Concorde’s designers didn’t have the technology for affordable supersonic travel, but now we do. Today, we’re proud to unveil our first aircraft as we look forward to first flight late next year.”