Is supersonic travel about to make a comeback? The Concorde was retired in 2003, but a new startup called Boom is hoping to make it a sustainable reality in the near future – and Virgin’s on board.
“This isn’t science fiction,” says the Boom website, “it’s possible now with today’s aerodynamics, carbon fiber composites, and the latest engine technology.” The company promises its planes can reach 1,451 mph – 2.6x faster than any other airliner. Translated into numbers you actually care about, that means the trip from New York to London would take a measly 3.5 hours and San Fransisco to Tokyo would be 4.5. All that could be yours for the cost of a business class ticket.
Boom has yet to build a prototype, but their crack team of ex-NASA, ex-Boeing, and ex-Lockheed employees have a seriously impressive resume. The company has also just gotten the ultimate vote of confidence: a US$2 billion deal with Virgin Group. Virgin has optioned 10 planes, with an unnamed European carrier optioning another 15.
Virgin is also helping Boom with the development process. A Virgin spokesperson said: “We can confirm that The Spaceship Company will provide engineering, design and manufacturing services, flight tests and operations and that we have an option on the first 10 airframes. It is still early days and just the start of what you’ll hear about our shared ambitions and efforts.”
Although “Boom” may be the worst name for an airline in all of air travel history, we can’t say we’re not excited about the prospects.