If the answer is yes, we have good news for you. Boom Technology, a Denver-based startup, aims to develop what the company calls “the fastest passenger airplane ever.” Backed by experts from aerospace giants such as Lockheed Martin, Gulfstream, Boeing, Virgin Galactic, and even NASA, the team aims to pick up where the Concorde left off.
Boom, the new supersonic airplane, will reach maximum speeds of Mach 2.2 (2,717 km/h) while burning fuel more efficiently than the Concorde, which in comparison reached only Mach 2.0. Commercial airliners can only reach Mach 0.85 (1050 km/h). This impressive speed translates to considerable time savings in air travel. The company proudly boasts that it can reduce a 7-hour New York to London flight to only 3.4 hours, creating the real possibility of a round trip overseas in a single day.
There are, of course, challenges to overcome. One of the main ones is price since, at a fee of US$5,000 for that round ticket from New York to London, supersonic flight is still cost prohibitive for a significant amount of the population. While the company aims its services toward current business class users, there are still questions of whether the demand for this type of flights will be sufficient to overset costs. Similar problems plagued the Concorde, as eventually the high costs of maintenance and upgrades became one of the reasons that led to this iconic airplane’s retirement.
Another problem that is intrinsic to supersonic flight is noise, specifically the sonic boom: the explosion-like sound created by all objects traveling faster than the speed of sound. While the sonic boom does not affect supersonic aircraft passengers, it is a continuous nuisance for those living underneath the aircraft’s route. In the past, this led to restricting supersonic flights to exclusively overseas trips, something which would greatly limit available routes.
While there are doubts, several people are betting on this plane’s profitability. In March this year, Virgin Galactic, which had expressed interest in high-speed flight, signed a venture to provide development services and to buy ten airplanes. Boom Technology also mentioned an agreement with an undisclosed buyer for 15 airplanes. However, Boom is still in development and its first prototype is expected to fly in late 2017.
Sources: GeekWire, BBC, and Denver Post.
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