Supersonic jets can cut commercial flight times in half by traveling faster than the speed of sound. For instance, shrinking the time to fly from New York to London from 6.5 hours to just 3.5 hours. It has been done before by the Concorde jet, which was retired in 2003, and why can’t it be done again? That is the question that the team at Boom Supersonic is working to answer as it seeks to make the world dramatically more accessible.
Founded in 2014, Boom is building the next generation of commercial supersonic jets. In an interview, the company’s founder and CEO, Blake Scholl, says it has two main advantages over the existing aerospace titans like Airbus or Boeing; focus and room for failure.
“Large companies rationally focus on the largest, lowest-risk, least-cannibalistic opportunities," he stated. "This prioritization inherently leaves nascent opportunities unserved, creating space for startups to fill.”
The Colorado-based company isn’t alone in seeing its jet as the future of air travel. The company has received advanced orders from major airlines around the world, like Japan Airlines and Virgin Group. The company has even won a U.S. Air Force (USAF) contract to develop a jet to transport high-ranking government officials, and potentially even serve as Air Force One.
This audacious undertaking to revive supersonic air travel requires a large and diverse team to ensure every aspect of its new plane is perfect because in the sky there is no room for errors.
Boom’s proof of concept, called the XB-1, is a one-third-scale trijet supersonic demonstrator that is planned to take flight in 2021 and maintain Mach 2.2 with over 1,000 nautical miles of range. The XB-1 was unveiled in early October and is the brainchild of Greg Krauland, the Chief Engineer of the XB-1 project, and his team of engineering experts.
Once the XB-1 is on the tarmac it will be up to Chief Test Pilot Bill Shoemaker and Test Pilot Chris “Duff” Guarente to get it in the sky. Shoemaker, a former US naval aviator, and Guarente, a former USAF test pilot, will put the plane through its paces to evaluate its performance and find any issues. The pilot team will work closely with Chief Flight Test Engineer Jeff “Legs” Mabry, a former USAF test pilot, who is responsible for developing the crew that will support XB-1 flight tests in the control room.
The team responsible for turning the prototype into a commercial success is led by Brian Durrence, the SVP of Overture Development at Boom. Durrence is focused on maturing the design of Overture, the company’s commercial jet, and developing the teams to get the plane in the hands of commercial operators. So far the company has pre-orders for at least 30 airframes, a number that is almost certain to grow if the XB-1 can demonstrate the viability of Boom’s vision when it takes flight.
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