Will Supersonic Flight Takeoff Again?

As several aviation startups look to bring back supersonic air travel, we are wondering if supersonic flight will takeoff again, or whether it is doomed before it starts.

Denver based boom are working on a 55-seat supersonic jet.Photo: Boom

Looking back, we can say that Concorde had been well ahead of its time in many ways. While the Air France crash may have signalled the end, the truth is that Concorde was already politically and economically finished.

Once Concorde was grounded in 2003, no one even thought about building another supersonic airliner as the costs to fly such a jet were too prohibitive. Added to this was the fact that supersonic flights were banned in European and American airspace due to the noise of the supersonic booms.

This just left routes over the ocean where you could fly faster than the speed of sound.

Having grown up watching the Apollo moon missions and seeing the first man walk on the moon, I expected us, by now, to have bases on the moon from which we could launch rockets to colonise Mars.

Instead, we have gone from dreaming of the stars and sleek supersonic jets like the Concorde to widebody subsonic aircraft and a space station that orbits the earth.

Startups are using new technology to build supersonic aircraft

Perhaps all that’s about to change, thanks to new technology and innovation, opening up some exciting possibilities. Nevada aircraft manufacturer Aerion was working with Lockheed Martin to build an aircraft that can fly at Mach 1.2 without producing a sonic boom.

Rolls Royce Supersonic
Aerion has now teamed up with Boeing to build a supersonic business jet.Photo: Aerion

Yet, without giving a reason why, has dropped Lockheed Martin and teamed up with Boeing according to Forbes.

No reason was given as to why Aerion stopped working with Lockheed Martin, but it didn’t seem to bother Boeing with the head of Boeing NeXT, Steve Nordlund, saying,

“Through this partnership that combines Aerion’s supersonic expertise with Boeing’s global industrial scale and commercial aviation experience; we have the right team to build the future of sustainable supersonic flight.”

Rather than an airliner, the supersonic plane Aerion is looking to build is a 12-seater business jet with a range of 4,200 nautical miles while flying at Mach 1.4.

More excitingly for airline geeks is Colorado’s Boom, and their plan to build a 55-seater plane that can fly passengers for the same price as a business class ticket today.

We are not living in the 1970s anymore

Back in the 1970s, you could smoke anywhere you wanted and go to a bar without the worry of being breathalysed on the way home.

Concorde Creates a Supersonic Boom FAA
Environmental concerns other than noise were not important. Photo: British Airways

Nobody had a mobile phone, and you could drive your car without having to have your seat belt on. Kids were told not to come home until it got dark and were allowed to ride their bikes without safety vests or helmets.

Unless they develop and environmentally friendly plane supersonic passengers jets will never happen

Now, look at today! There are rules for everything, including health, safety and the wellbeing of others.

Tui are the most eco friendly airline.
British carrier TUI Airways is the most eco-friendly airline according to CNN Travel. Photo: Mark Finlay/Flickr

We had never heard about climate change, global warming and offsetting your carbon footprint. This all leads me to believe that due to environmental concerns, supersonic passenger jets will never fly.

Congress in the United States is trying to get the current ban on overland supersonic flights lifted, according to CNBC.

Unless they can come up with a plane that doesn’t create a sonic boom and is environmentally friendly, I don’t see supersonic passenger flights as a reality. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.