Sun. Mar 26th, 2023

Boom, an aerospace startup hoping to usher in a new era of affordable supersonic civil air travel, has unveiled the first scale prototype of the Boom Passenger Jet. Dubbed the XB-1 or “Baby Boom,” the third-scale prototype has three jet engines that will apparently propel the plane to Mach 2.2 — 10 percent faster than Concorde — with a range of more than 1,000 nautical miles.

Boom was founded in 2014. Current investors include Y Combinator and Sam Altman, and with a press release yesterday, it appears Richard Branson’s Spaceship Company is now a key partner in the project, helping with production and engineering. Honeywell supplied the avionics for the XB-1 prototype and it is powered by three tweaked General Electric J85-21 jet engines. Composite materials are supplied by Tencate and formed into structures by Blue Force.

The Boom Passenger Jet, if eventually built, will be virtually identical to the XB-1 – only three times bigger. From a distance, the full Boom jet will look more like a smaller Concorde (52 meters vs. 62 meters). Up close you can see that both aircraft have a similar delta wing shape, but the Boom wing has a chined forebody that starts at the nose of the fuselage, perhaps reminiscent of the SR-71 or A-12, and with swept rather than straight wings. trailing edges.

The full-scale craft will be powered by three jet engines – believed to be larger versions of the engines used in the prototype – though not much is known about them at this point, other than they won’t have afterburning. Afterburning (injecting more jet fuel after the turbine) increases thrust, but greatly reduces overall efficiency and increases fuel consumption. The Concorde used afterburning to get up to speed, burning tons of fuel in the process. Boom believes it can reach Mach 2.2 (~1,451 mph) without afterburners thanks to improvements in aerodynamics, materials and propulsion. Concorde was limited to Mach 2 because it was made of aluminium, which could not handle the higher temperatures due to friction with air (it started to soften).

The specified maximum range of the Boom Passenger Jet is 4,500 nautical miles (slightly more than the Concorde) at a cruising altitude of 60,000 feet (~18,200 m), or 9,000 nautical miles with in-flight refueling. Passenger capacity is much lower than the Concorde (45 vs. ~100), with only one seat on either side of the center aisle. In March, Boom’s founder said they’re aiming for a London-New York round trip of just $5,000 (~£4,000), about half the price of traveling on the Concorde, or about the same price you currently pay for a first trip. class return flight across the Atlantic in a Boeing 777. The Boom jet would do London-New York in about 3 hours and 24 minutes, San Francisco-Tokyo in five hours, and Los Angeles-Sydney in six hours. Both longer journeys would most likely require aerial refueling.

For now, however, the XB-1 scale has only two seats: one for the pilot and an optional seat for an engineer or passenger. The XB-1 is only 21 meters long and has a wingspan of 5 meters. The aircraft, currently in Boom’s hangar at Denver’s Centennial Airport, will make its first subsonic flight in late 2017. The first supersonic flight will then take place at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Boom, if the company gets to that point, hopes to have the full-size aircraft ready by 2023. Richard Branson has confirmed Virgin Atlantic is looking to buy 10 Boom Passenger Jets, and Boom says another unnamed European airline is on the line for 15 vessels.

Civilian supersonic air travel is a fairly hot topic right now: Aerion (in partnership with Airbus) hopes to have a Mach 1.5 supersonic jet in operation by 2023; Spike Aerospace has an 18-passenger windowless Mach 1.8 design that targets the 2020s; and HyperMach is apparently working on a Mach 4.4 machine called the SonicStar – although much of the technology needed for that plane doesn’t yet exist.


Finally, as an added bonus, here’s a random drone shot I came across this morning of the Russian Tu-144 supersonic passenger jet. Apparently, this jet is located in a courtyard outside the Kazan National Research Technical University. The Tu-144 was the first civilian supersonic airliner to just beat Concorde, but the fleet was grounded in 1978 after just 55 scheduled flights.

By akfire1

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