DALLAS — Everyone loves speed because it gives us a thrill. That is why we watch Formula One (F1) races, drive fast supercars, and enjoy air travel. Commercial air travel again aims to be even faster and break the sound barrier.
Supersonic speed means the speed of an object that exceeds the speed of sound. Mach 1 refers to the speed of objects traveling at the speed of sound. Commercial jets are now limited to flying at subsonic speeds, or speeds less than the speed of sound. But there are a few companies that are working to bring supersonic aircraft back into the skies.
This is not the first time that aerospace companies have worked towards developing a supersonic jet. We know that in the 1960s, French, British, and Russian companies developed supersonic planes.
Today, we look at a detailed list of companies working on the next supersonic jets.
Boom Technology Inc traded as Boom Supersonic is a Colorado-based company capable of designing and developing a supersonic airliner. The company was founded by Blake Scholl (CEO), Joe Wilding (Chief Engineer), and Josh Krall (CTO) in Denver in 2014.
In early 2016, they participated in the Y-Combinator startup incubation program and they got funding from Sam Altman, Seraph Group, Eight Partners, and others. And with this, the company progressed towards achieving goals driven to bring faster, more sustainable, and affordable travel for all.
After receiving its first round of funding, Boom secured investments from various VCs and financial institutions. In 2017, Continuity Fund, RRE Ventures, Palm Drive Ventures, 8VC, and Caffeinated Capital all invested US$33m. By April of that year, the company had successfully secured US$41m.
After seeing Boom’s strong future aspects, Japan Airlines (JL) invested US$10m in December 2017. The capital was enough to build the first supersonic aircraft demonstrator, which they named XB-1 “Baby Boom.”
XB-1 Baby Boom
The company unveiled its design by end of 2016, initially, the aircraft was expected to make its first subsonic flight by late 2017. The aircraft is powered by General Electric (GE) CJ610 turbojets. With sufficient funding they secured by mid-2017, they had enough to build and fly it.
Boom completed the initial design review in June 2017, then they load-tested the composite wing spar. By 2018, the aerodynamic design was ready, the horizontal tail was assembled and they took deliveries of engines. XB-1 design went through 3 sets of tests in a wind tunnel. Boom completed all three sets of tests by December 2018, and Concorde took 10 years to complete these tests.
During the 2019 Paris Air Show, Blake Scholl announced the date for the first flight was pushed out to 2020 and it kept on getting delayed due to structure and safety-related issues.
On the 7th of October 2020, the company released a promotional on XB-1 with an announcement to make its maiden flight by 2021. By end of 2022, Boom has completed around 80% of pre-flight testing checks and we can expect its first flight sooner.
The XB-1 Baby Boom prototype is powered by three jet engines with the ability to reach Mach 2.2 and has a range of more than 1,000 nm (1,900 km). It is constructed from lightweight composites, titanium, and A286 stainless steel alloys.
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Featured image: Boom Supersonic