DENVER - An aviation startup with backing from Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson has unveiled the prototype for the jet aimed to be next generation of supersonic aircraft.
Boom Technology revealed the XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator to a group of airline and aerospace executives at Centennial Airport in Denver on Tuesday. The XB-1, nicknamed "Baby Boom," is a technically representative 1/3-scale version of the planned final design, and the first flight is planned for late 2017.
"60 years after the dawn of the jet age, we're still flying at 1960s speeds," said Blake Scholl, chief executive officer and founder of Boom. "Concorde's designers didn't have the technology for affordable supersonic travel, but now we do. Today, we're proud to unveil our first aircraft as we look forward to first flight late next year."
Boom said its subsonic test flights will be conducted east of Denver, and supersonic tests will be done near Edwards Air Force Base in California in partnership with Virgin Galactic’s The Spaceship Company. The company added it hopes to begin passenger flights in the early 2020s.
"I have long been passionate about aerospace innovation and the development of high-speed commercial flights," said Branson. "As an innovator in the space, Virgin Galactic's decision to work with Boom was an easy one. We're excited to have an option on Boom's first 10 airframes. Through Virgin Galactic's manufacturing arm, The Spaceship Company, we will provide engineering and manufacturing services, along with flight test support and operations as part of our shared ambitions."
KVUE reported in March that Virgin Group optioned 10 planes and that Boom optioned another 15 to a European character. Boom’s goal is to have planes that fly at 2.2 times the speed of sound.
Their website describes some advantages of flying at Mach 2.2, including a 3.4-hour flight from New York to London, a 4.7-hour flight from San Francisco to Tokyo and a 6-hour flight from Los Angeles to Sydney. Cost for round-trip tickets on a Boom aircraft would range from $5,500 to $7,000.
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(© 2016 KVUE)