Concorde Replacement Edges Closer With Boom’s XB-1 Unveiling

Boom Supersonic has taken a big step toward putting a Concorde-like supersonic passenger plane into commercial service with the unveiling of a prototype.

Colorado-based Boom pulled the wraps off the sleek-looking aircraft at a special event at Centennial Airport in Denver on Wednesday, October 7.

Officially known as the XB-1 but nicknamed the Baby Boom, the jet is 21.6 meters long with a 6.4-meter wingspan, making it a third of the size of the planned Overture aircraft that the company is planning to build.

Featuring a carbon-composite airframe and powered by three General Electric-designed J85-15 engines, the XB-1 is expected to take its first flight in 2021 in tests that will help Boom refine the design of Overture.

The XB-1 only has space for the pilot, but Overture will seat up to 75 passengers while flying at speeds of Mach-2.2 — almost 1,700 mph, or more than twice the speed of sound.

Boom Supersonic’s XB-1 prototype. Boom Supersonic

Despite the current pressures on the airline industry caused by the coronavirus pandemic, around 30 pre-orders for Overture have already been made by airlines around the world.

If Boom can overcome the various financial and technical challenges to realize its dream and meet its target date of 2030 for commercial services, passengers will be able to fly from New York to London in a mere 3 hours and 30 minutes, three hours faster than current services. Seattle to Tokyo would take just 4 hours and 30 minutes instead of 8 hours and 30 minutes, while L.A. to Sydney would take only 8 hours and 30 minutes, six hours faster than it takes today.

How Overture could look in the sky. Boom Supersonic

As for how much you’ll have to pay for your speedy international flight, Boom says that although airlines will of course have the final say, it’s designing Overture so that carriers will be able to offer fares “similar to today’s long-haul, business-class travel,” adding that its ultimate goal is to reduce operating costs to bring the possibility of supersonic flight to more people.

Boom started out in 2014 and has received backing from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, among others. It currently employs a team of more than 140 people who together have contributed to more than 220 air and spacecraft programs.

Commenting on Wednesday’s unveiling of the prototype jet, Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl said: “Boom continues to make progress towards our founding mission — making the world dramatically more accessible,” adding, “XB-1 is an important milestone towards the development of our commercial airliner, Overture, making sustainable supersonic flight mainstream and fostering human connection.”

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