New York City to London in just over three hours?
It’s been more than ten years since the British and French scrapped the original Concorde jets. But, the dream of supersonic travel has quietly lived on since. Now, Boom — a company with all the right gears behind the scenes to realize such a project — is working to revive the idea of ultra-fast commercial aviation. Here’s why it just might work this time around.
The Concorde project was wrought with maintenance complications, sky-high costs, and slumping demand, particularly after the World Trade Center disaster in 2001. Fast-forward just 15 years, and many of those issues may already be solved. Newer, advanced composite materials are cheaper, more lightweight, and strong enough to survive the rigors of supersonic flight. Plus, the rise in “digital nomadism” (that is, the younger generations choosing to work remotely) means the demand for a faster, affordable, more efficient mode of air transportation is higher than ever.
Today’s most advanced airliners max out at Mach 0.85 and the Concorde was capable of just Mach 2.0. But Boom is pushing its XB-1 (nicknamed “Baby Boom”) to Mach 2.2. In plain English, that’s 1,451 MPH — more than two and a half times faster than any other commercial flight. In practical terms, that means passengers could fly from New York City to London in a little over three hours. Ideally, one could depart JFK in the morning, have afternoon cocktails and dinner in London, and be home to catch Survivor the same night. Plus, with the ability to “beat” the time difference, it could make Transpacific trips up to two days shorter. A one-way ticket from NYC to London is projected to cost $2,500. That may sound stratospheric for most common folk. But, all good technology has to start somewhere.
In the age of overhyped, never-delivered Kickstarter launches, it’s easy to deride this is yet another project destined to fade into obscurity. But, the list of financial backers and heavy-hitters behind Boom includes certified pilots and folks with boatloads of tech industry experience at companies like Amazon, Groupon, Gulfstream, and Boeing. They’re smart, motivated, and — most importantly — very well funded. Plus, the company’s engineers have contributed to 40 of the most advanced and well-known aeronautics projects in modern aviation. They’ve worked on SpaceX, the autopiloting systems of the Boeing 787, the engine of the F135 Joint Strike Fighter, and achieved successful test flights up to Mach 3. With the company’s first flight planned for late 2017, the future of air travel could become very fast, very fast.
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