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September 25, 2023

Supersonic Travel, Part Deux

Traveling this holiday season? Here’s a little food for thought: What if you could get to your destination 2.6x faster? Say, LA to NY in just under 2 hours? Yes, please?!

A new, more economical supersonic jet is on the horizon, cutting travel time without breaking the bank. For example, London to NY in 3 hours and 15 minutes for $2,500 per ticket. It sure would make traveling for work and pleasure more enjoyable while we await teleportation.

Concorde remake

Hollywood loves a remake. Right now there are 111 remakes or reboots in the works. And, who isn’t excited to see Emma Watson as Belle in the latest adaptation of Beauty and the Beast? (Don’t answer that…)

Why not extend that policy to other parts of our lives?

First up, supersonic air travel. Boom Technology is a Denver-based startup established in 2014 that is attempting to reboot supersonic transportation. While Concorde and British Airways isn’t likely to make a comeback, this latest supersonic project recently unveiled a third-scale prototype.

Baby Boom takes flight

As a proof of concept project, the Boom Technology team finally has a prototype to play with:

The demonstrator vehicle, called Baby Boom, is slated to take to the air in 2017. If development goes as planned, the full-size version, including cockpit systems from Honeywell and engines manufactured by General Electric Co., could start carrying passengers early in the next decade.

Supersonic passenger jet has the potential to be closer to reality than previously thought. Boom cites that technology seems to have finally caught up to our lofty ideas for this type of travel:

Nearly six decades after the dawn of the jet age, we finally have the technology for efficient, economical, and safe supersonic flight. Key technologies, such as composite fuselages and high-temperature material systems, have only recently been accepted by the FAA for commercial aircraft.

Danger: Sonic boom ahead

Wait a second. What about the dreaded sonic boom? Air and Space Magazine indicates that breakthroughs have been made in that arena in the last two decades:

Back at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, aerodynamicists claimed a breakthrough: computer codes that made it possible to design a supersonic airplane with a much reduced sonic boom. The snag was that the craft could not be very large. It would be a corporate jet.

No wonder the full size Boom plane is only designed to seat 45 passengers. A smaller 3-engine jet may be the key to success.

Apart from the design and manufacture of the plane, the other hiccup is that supersonic flight is banned over the United States and Europe. Overland travel bans must be repealed for the jets to live up to the hype. Until then, the pilots would have to slow down to subsonic over land and then crank up the speed again while going over the ocean.

Once that is sorted out, the possibilities are endless! And, for as much travel as CPAs end up doing, it’s fun to think about.

Image: Boom Technology Press Kit

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