Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Boom Supersonic rolls out its faster-than-sound XB-1 demonstrator aircraft

After six years of development, Aviation startup Boom Supersonic has finally unveiled a fully assembled version of its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator. The craft is the first independently developed supersonic jet and is designed to prove the technology ahead of a full-size airliner, Overture – the world’s fastest airliner.

XB-1 is slated to fly for the first time in 2021 and will undergo a 100% carbon-neutral flight test program.

XB-1 is slated to fly for the first time in 2021
XB-1 is slated to fly for the first time in 2021. Credit: Boom Supersonic

The Boom XB-1 is a scaled-down version of the complete production model that Boom expects to have ready for passengers in 2029. Its carbon-composite airframe measures 71-foot-long and has no room for passengers beyond the pilot himself. XB-1 leverages a high-resolution video camera and cockpit display to give pilots a virtual window through the nose, providing superior runway visibility for landing.

The aircraft is powered by a total of three J85-15 engines, rated to provide more than 12,000 pounds of thrust. J85-15s are manufactured by General Electric and are generally used in military aircraft. With these three engines and the aircraft’s aerodynamics, they expect to hit Mach 2.2 (about 2,716 km/h) speeds at best, with over 1,000 nmi (1,900 km) of range.

XB-1 at sunset.
XB-1 at sunset. Credit: Boom Supersonic

Now, XB-1 will complete its ongoing, extensive ground test program before heading to Mojave, California, in 2021 for a flight test. At the same time, the company will finalize Overture’s propulsion system and conduct wind tunnel tests to validate aircraft design. When XB-1 breaks the sound barrier in flight, Boom will be finalizing the design of Overture, whose own rollout is on track for 2025.

The commercial version of the aircraft is 60 meters long, and inside will allow transport between 55 and 75 passengers. The speed is twice as much as a current average plane, allowing you to cut your current flight time in half. The company promises a flight from New York to London in three and a half hours, while it currently takes about seven hours. A ticket for that will not come cheap; it will cost about $5,000 per person.

Boom continues to make progress towards our founding mission – making the world dramatically more accessible,” said Blake Scholl, Boom founder, and CEO. “XB-1 is an important milestone towards the development of our commercial airliner, Overture, making sustainable supersonic flight mainstream and fostering human connection.

Boom is not the only entity interested in reviving supersonic travel. NASA is planning to test a prototype X-59 QueSST over major US cities in 2023. Some other startups, like Aerion and Spike Aerospace, are designing planes that would cut long flights in half.