Taking a one-day, round trip from New York to London sounds like the stuff of science fiction. But 15 years ago – if you hade the means – it was very doable. However, for various social, technical and financial reasons, the Concorde jet was retired and with it an exciting way of crossing the Atlantic. But for those of us old enough to remember, the dream of supersonic jet travel never died. And with prototypes and a Boom release date now taking shape, we’re finally going back to the future.
When will supersonic travel come back?
At Boom Supersonic, the company behind the new boom supersonic jets, planning is currently underway to deliver supersonic air travel. Their business model aims to provide a financially viable, supersonic, fare from London to New York, at a price comparable to a business class ticket.
Wile Boom Supersonic is just one of several firms endeavouring to revive Mach 2 travel, the Denver-based operation is currently the forerunner. And if their prototype, 55-seater jet is successful, it could offer passengers the experience of a cruising speed of 1,451mph. That’s 500mph faster than the Gulfstream G650, a private jet with a top speed of 982 km/h, and nearly three times faster than your average Boeing 747.
The current estimated Boom release date for these jets is 2025. But before this can happen, the company needs to reassure passengers and governments of the jet’s safety, both to humans and the environment.
They’re called “boom supersonic jets” for a reason
Before Concorde was retired, the noise associated with the jet was becoming problematic. The ‘boom’ made as Concorde broke the sound barrier was an exciting feature, but noise restrictions meant it had to wait until it was out to sea before reaching Mach 2.
But wait – Boom’s prototypes reach speeds of 100mph faster than Concorde and the company is envisioning a route map of some 500 destinations around the world. Surely, this has noise pollution issues too. That could mean 23,600 aircraft in service, and half of those in the air at any given time. This is about the same as the current number of Boeing 737s in operation. So working out how these will all hit Mach 2 only over water, is problematic.
However, Boom is adamant their machines will be quieter and therefore this issue will be removed. The company is keen to point out, Concorde was made in the 1960’s and although small, relatively heavy for its size.
Transatlantic and Oceanic flights
To date, Virgin Atlantic and Japan Airlines have expressed an interest in making an order but not yet done so. One reason for this could be, most airlines are still waiting to see what happens next. This is because it’s not yet certain how the future of supersonic travel will take form.
This year, Boeing also unveiled a rendering of its hypersonic offering – a Mach 5 jet with a speed of around 3,900mph. And if Boeing can make this happen, crossing the Atlantic in just over an hour could be a reality. But until we know for sure, most airlines are sitting on their credit cards. And while in theory, we could all be travelling between destinations such as New York and Malta by 2025, we’ll need an airline to take the plunge and buy Boom, to get us there.