Leading innovators in the aviation industry are working to bring back supersonic travel after a 13-year hiatus.
Travelers and aviation enthusiasts alike may be in for a sonic blast from the past, as airlines and tech startups have announced major investment into a new generation of Concorde-style supersonic transports (SSTs). Since earlier this year, Boom Technology has been working on a Mach 2.2-capable passenger jet designed to be faster, lighter, and safer than the famous Concorde, and Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic fame has thrown his support behind the project.
Their objective? To make a modern-day SST that can do the job of its 60s-era predecessor while taking advantage of modern fuel-efficient engine technology and lower fuel costs to make flying on one much less expensive—theoretically $5,000 USD for a 3-hour transatlantic flight, much cheaper than the Concorde’s very steep $20,000 round-trip ticket.
Boom and their investors hope to revolutionize business travel by making it possible to attend meetings thousands of miles away and potentially return within the same day, all at a price equal to today’s business class rates.
The first prototype, a small two-seater concept plane, was unveiled by Sir Richard and the Boom team at an event in Denver on November 15—they promise that the first flight will come in 2017, with regular service coming as early as 2020.
With such a fast turnaround time, it’s easy to see why both airlines and aviation fans are looking forward to the result. For years, supersonic travel had been written off as an expensive toy at best, and downright dangerous at worst thanks to the Concorde’s infamous crash in the early 2000s, but today’s innovative and bold startup culture promises to help bring it back to life. It’ll be well worth it to keep an eye on Boom and Virgin Galactic over the next few years, and with any luck business travelers will have something interesting to look forward to on their future trips.