50 years after Concorde, US start-up eyes supersonic future

Published July 24, 2018, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

 

Boom Supersonic co-founder, Blake Scholl, poses for a photograph in front of an artist's impression of his company's proposed design for an supersonic aircraft, dubbed Baby Boom, at the Farnborough Airshow, south west of London, on July 18, 2018. (AFP photo)
Boom Supersonic co-founder, Blake Scholl, poses for a photograph in front of an artist’s impression of his company’s proposed design for an supersonic aircraft, dubbed Baby Boom, at the Farnborough Airshow, south west of London, on July 18, 2018. (AFP photo)

By Roland Jackson

WEYBRIDGE, United Kingdom (AFP) – Luxury air travel faster than the speed of sound: A US start-up is aiming to revive commercial supersonic flight 50 years after the ill-fated Concorde first took to the skies.

Blake Scholl, the former Amazon staffer who co-founded Boom Supersonic, delivered the pledge this week in front of a fully-restored Concorde jet at the Brooklands aviation and motor museum in Weybridge, southwest of London.

Boom Supersonic’s backers include Richard Branson and Japan Airlines and other players are eyeing the same segment.

The company aims to manufacture a prototype jet next year but its plans have been met with scepticism in some quarters.

“The story of Concorde is the story of a journey started but not completed – and we want to pick up on it,” Scholl said.

The event coincided with the nearby Farnborough Airshow.

“Today… the world is more linked than it’s ever been before and the need for improved human connection has never been greater,” Scholl said.

“At Boom, we are inspired at what was accomplished half a century ago,” he added, speaking in front of a former British Airways Concorde that flew for the first time in 1969.

Boom Supersonic’s aircraft, dubbed Baby Boom, is expected by the company to fly for the first time next year.

“If we can’t continue where you left off, and build on that, then the shame is on us,” Scholl said, addressing himself to an audience that included retired Concorde staff.

“Our vision is to build a faster airplane that is accessible to more and more people, to anybody who flies.”

Boom Supersonic is making its debut at Farnborough and hopes to produce its new-generation jets in the mid-2020s or later, with the aim of slashing journey times by half.

The proposed aircraft has a maximum flying range of 8,334 kilometers (5,167 miles) at a speed of Mach 2.2 or 2,335 kilometers per hour.

If it takes off, it would be the first supersonic passenger aircraft since Concorde took its final flight in 2003.

The Concorde was retired following an accident in 2000 in which a Concorde crashed shortly after takeoff from Paris, killing 113 people.

Some analysts remain skeptical over the push back into supersonic.

“Supersonic is not what passengers or airlines want right now,” said Strategic Aero analyst Saj Ahmed, stressing that many travellers wanted cheap low-cost carriers instead.

Ahmed said supersonic jets were “very unattractive” because of high start-up development costs, considerations about noise pollution and high prices as well as limited capacity.

 
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