Ever since the Concorde left the scene, supersonic flight seemed to have remained nothing but a taboo. However, since the year of its founding (2014), Boom Supersonic has brought back considerable interest in flying faster than the speed of sound. The "main problem" that Concorde had, aside from its enormous operating costs, was its "Boom" characteristic that was even heard from the ground despite flying at an altitude of over 15,000m above sea level. For this reason, supersonic flight over inhabited areas was banned, meaning it was only allowed to fly over the sea. In this way, supersonic flight soon went from being the future of air transport to being relegated mainly to flights over the Atlantic.
Today, technological advances promise a return to supersonic transport. Boom Supersonic (Denver, Colorado) an American startup company affirms on its website:
"Supersonic flight has existed for over 50 years, but the technology to make it efficient and mainstream has only recently been accepted by regulators. We’re combining materials and technologies proven on other passenger aircraft into a breakthrough new design, giving passengers and airlines a revolutionary speedup."
First, there will be a demonstration flight of an experimental "low sonic boom" airplane, developed by Boom in collaboration with Virgin Galactic. The technology demonstrator, called XB-1, is a 1 to 3 scale model, precursor to a supersonic civil transport aircraft with 55 seats, called the "Boom Overture". The first test flight is scheduled to take place in 2020 at Mojave spaceport in California.
Rendering of the Boom Supersonic Overture. Photo by Boom Technology.
Both the XB-1 and Overture will be built using low-weight carbon-composites, which aids in fuel efficiency. The main goal is that, once the XB-1 proves the concept and technology to be viable, the Overture will then take to the stage to bring back supersonic transport.
New Agreement with Rolls-Royce
Yesterday, Boom Supersonic officially announced a new collaboration with Rolls-Royce to design the propulsion system of their flagship aircraft, the Supersonic Overture.
"The teams will investigate whether an existing engine architecture can be adapted for supersonic flight, while Boom’s internal team continues to develop the airframe configuration," it explained.
Both Boom and Rolls-Royce’s teams shared commitments to sustainability. The future of air travel is carbon emission-free, it seems, and as a result, supersonic travel has to be compatible with it. Rolls-Royce is a leading industrial technology company and as a result of this collaboration, there will likely be significant progress towards finalizing Overture’s aircraft configuration and propulsion system.