There was a time when air travelers had the option of boarding supersonic jets in New York and landing in Paris about 3.5 hours later, all while basking in the height of luxury; that was the era of the Concorde, which was mostly flown by British Airways and Air France from 1976 until 2003. In 2017, however, an aerospace firm based in the United States is very close to bringing back supersonic speed and luxury travel to the commercial airline industry.
The aptly named Boom Technology firm is based in Denver, and it created a substantial amount of buzz earlier this year at the Paris Air Show. It was during this renowned trade show that Boom Technology executives explained that they had figured out a way to make supersonic air travel truly efficient thanks to a combination of clever aerodynamics and an overall operational process that could make it easy to fly at Mach 2.2, twice as fast as today’s top speeds.
Why the Time is Right for Supersonic Air Travel
At 55 seats, the supersonic aircraft being engineered by Boom Technology will be smaller than the Concorde, which could seat up to 100 passengers due to shape and size of its fuselage. The Denver company has collected an astonishing 76 orders for Boom jets, which have a minimum price tag of $200 million upon delivery. The only carrier that has come forward as a buyer is Virgin Airlines, the rest have requested confidentiality for the time being.
Unlike the Concorde, the Boom project is not receiving major government subsidies. The company can operate with considerable flexibility as long as it can keep up with the orders. The maintenance and operational costs of Boom supersonic aircraft are only a fraction of the Concorde’s, which means that airlines could charge between $3,000 and $6,000 per transatlantic flight on business class.
It is important to note that the Concorde was retired a couple of years after the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks, which resulted in a major pullback across the global aviation industry, which in turn resulted in spartan commercial flight experiences. Nostalgic passengers who yearn for the fabulous luxury of air travel during the 20th century seem to be ready for a new supersonic era.
The testing platform for Boom is the XB-1, a two-seater aircraft that can match the speeds realized by military jet fighters. Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company founded by Richard Branson, has offered Boom its aerospace facilities for testing.