The Return of Supersonic Passenger Jet Travel?
When the Concorde died, so too did the dream of supersonic intercontinental passenger jet travel…or so the world thought.
Of course, there have been persistent rumors over the years of the return of supersonic travel, even rumors of the return of the Concorde itself, but nothing has materialized and those bygone days remain romantic memories of the past.
The Concorde, you see, was the height of luxury and sophistication when it came to modern air travel – a mode that recalled an earlier time, a period when flight was still chic and the word jetset truly embodied an ethos.
Now, with the commodification of passenger jet travel and the subsequent stripping of any and every amenity from the plane ride, elegance has left the building and utility reigns.
But the Concorde, of course, was different and its uniqueness among a sea of bland commercial jets helped define it.
Colorado-based startup Boom Technology is promising a return to supersonic jet flight and has been developing its own version of a supersonic jet since 2014 with plans to have a plan in the sky by 2018 according to Boom’s CEO Blake Scholl.
The jet in development, the XB-1 jet, has garnered interest from five different carriers, according to Scholl. The jet is capable of flight at Mach 2.2, and can reach top speeds of up to 1,451 mph (2,330 kph). A full-sized version of the plane will is even quicker with a speed approaching 1,687 mph (2,330 kph) – 100 miles per hour faster than the famed Concorde.
“Think about for a moment the families that are separated because of the long flights…Think about the trips not taken because when you add up the lost hours, the trip just doesn’t feel worth it. That’s where we come in. We are a team of engineers and technologists, brought together for the sole purpose of making our world dramatically more accessible,” Scholl told 2017 Dubai Airshow attendees.
The first version of the “Boom” jet will likely only have space for 55 passengers and will probably be business class only according to the Daily Telegraph. Another configuration would reserve 15 seats for first-class passengers and the remaining thirty for business class. Supersonic travel for economy passengers is likely a distant reality given the economics of supersonic, trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific jet flight.
CEO Scholl argues you will not have to be a multi-millionaire to secure a place on one of his jets and scoffs at the idea that supersonic jet travel is only for the rich. “You won’t have to be on the Forbes’ list to be able to fly…t will cost about the same as flying business class today. The ultimate goal is to make supersonic affordable for anyone who flies.”
As many travelers around the world will agree, anything that makes flight cheaper, faster, and more comfortable is a welcome change. Maybe the new era of Concorde-like supersonic jets could prove a boon to travel industry as a whole which has languished under increasingly tight margins and commodified approaches to the passenger experience.