Flying at double the speed of sound, Boom airplane passengers will be able to complete an “affordable” international trip and not miss a night’s sleep in their own bed. That’s the reality one startup aims to create, a vision already attracting investors.
At first glance, Boom may sound like it’s doing the same thing the Concorde supersonic plane was designed, but ultimately failed, to accomplish. But the Denver-based startup says that not only will its advanced technology allow it to fly faster, at Mach 2.2 compared to the Concorde’s 2.0, but also its business-savvy seating arrangement will keep the plane economically viable unlike the discontinued Concorde.
Virgin Galactic is just the latest big name to be associated with the Boom aircraft. On Wednesday, Virgin CEO Richard Branson signed a letter of intent expressing strong interest in buying 10 Boom airplanes, a deal estimated to be worth $2 billion. An unnamed European airline reportedly made a similar business guarantee to buy 15 planes, bringing the total value of the two deals to about $5 billion.
Heading up Boom is pilot and former Amazon executive Blake Scholl. He’s built the company with the advice of US astronaut Mark Kelly, as well as 11 of his employees who previously worked in the industry under Boeing, Lockheed and NASA, according to TechCrunch.
The Boom plane will feature 40 standard business-class seats, set up in 20 rows to give each passenger aisle space and a window to look out. The view promises to offer more than any other flight, not only because of the plane’s speed, but because it will be designed to fly 60,000 feet high, where the Earth’s curve is visible. Flying at such heights is also part of the reason why such great distances can be traveled so quickly.
Boom’s website offers a preview of global trips, cutting the commute time often by half. Instead of flying seven hours to London from New York, how about 3 hours, 25 minutes? San Francisco to Tokyo takes just 4 hours, 40 minutes, and Los Angeles to Sydney would take just six hours, the company says.
The New York to London roundtrip would cost $5,000, out of the price range of many, but a worthy time-saver for some business travelers. Compared to Concorde, which charged four times as much for similar trips, you could call it a bargain.
While a prototype Boom plane, about one-third the size of the planned model, is still being built inside a hangar south of the Denver International Airport, the company hopes it will be ready to fly by the end of 2017. No date has been estimated for when the full-size version will take flight.