Colorado-based Boom Technology’s “Baby Boom” XB-1 supersonic demonstrator—a one-third scale stepping stone to a supersonic 40-seat passenger airliner—will make its first test flight late-2017. Although currently under construction, the XB-1 is described as “the first independently developed supersonic jet and history’s fastest civil aircraft.”
The XB-1 currently sits at Denver’s Centennial Airport, where the first subsonic test flights will occur. Supersonic test flights will be conducted in the supersonic test corridor near Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California. The demonstrator bears the registration N220XB, a nod to the Mach 2.2 speed goal for Boom’s passenger airliner—10% faster than the Concorde.
Boom promises the final aircraft, which is slated for service in 2023, will halve air travel times, sending passengers between London and New York in three hours and 15 minutes.
Boom has already attracted commitments for 25 aircraft—including 10 from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, which has partnered with and invested heavily in Boom. Virgin Group will also contribute engineering and manufacturing services and test flight support and operations to Boom.
Other airframe manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing, are also in various stages of designing supersonic airliners and private business jets. However, manufacturers are struggling with new Section 14 rules for take-off noise emissions that take effect in 2017.
Boom—a two-year-old start-up—is confident they will be able to pass Section 14 rules. “Medium bypass engines and throttle back at takeoff get you to Chapter 14 compliance,” said Boom Chief Executive and founder Blake Scholl. This contrasts with other strategies, such as Aerion’s plan to submit type certification for the AS2 business jet in 2017 to operate under the comparatively relaxed Chapter 4 noise rules.
The XB-1 demonstrator will be powered by three 3500-lb thrust General Electric J85-21 turbojet engines, while the full size airliner will incorporate three medium-bypass turbofan engines for noise reduction and efficiency.
While Boom supports a lift on the U.S. supersonic flight ban over land, the company is confident it can find a market even with the ban in place.