Centennial's Boom Supersonic partners with Japan Airlines on orders, $10M investment

Andrew Cummings
December 6, 2017

Supersonic flight is banned over Europe and the United States.

Back in the day, Concorde was dogged by huge overheads, notoriously inefficient fuel consumption and, as a result, tickets that were really bloody expensive - a standard single fare would set you back £4,000 in 2003, or about £5,800 if adjusted for inflation.

Japan Airlines wants to see a world where Tokyo and the West Coast of the United States are separated by just five and a half hours at supersonic speeds. It could do without being earth-shatteringly noisy too.

Boom hopes to have a prototype of its aircraft flying next year.

Boom, the USA aerospace company hoping to build a "baby" Concorde, has come a step closer to bringing back supersonic flight for commercial passengers after securing a major investment from Japan Airlines.

Boom reportedly has 76 preorders, not including the option of 20 aircraft from Japan Airlines, for its plane that would travel at Mach 2.2, over two times the speed of sound and faster than the Concorde, which maxed out at around Mach 2.

United Kingdom airline Virgin Atlantic already has options for 10 of the aircraft, and an unnamed European carrier has options on 15 more, Boom has said. Branson's Virgin Galactic subsidiary the Spaceship Company is also involved in testing and manufacturing the jets.

"We're thrilled to be working with JAL to develop a reliable, easily-maintained aircraft that will provide revolutionary speed to passengers", Boom's chief executive Blake Scholl said. "The ultimate goal is to make supersonic travel affordable for anyone who flies". That reduces the risk of noise pollution caused by a sonic boom.

Earlier this year, Boom raised $33 million to fund the development of the XB-1 prototype. A 3.5 hour return flight to NY on the 55-seater is pitched at an "affordable" $5000 - about 75% cheaper than the Anglo-French pioneer.

"Our goal is to develop an airliner that will be a great addition to any worldwide airline's fleet", Scholl said. 'Travelers are hungry for faster flights and airlines will be excited for a differentiated and profitable option for their premium travelers'.

While several other companies, including Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp, are developing new supersonic jets, Scholl said his plan was likely to beat them to the market, as it does not require any new technology for regulator approval.

Plane makers covet the backing of large and established airlines.

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