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Next generation supersonic planes take-off

  • March 27, 2024
  • 2 min read
Next generation supersonic planes take-off

The first private supersonic airplanes since Concorde retired twenty years ago has taken off. Boom’s XB-1 supersonic demonstrator completed its maiden flight at the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California on 22nd March.

When Concorde flew for the very last time in November 2003, it was seen as a step backwards in terms of technology. It was a rare case of the world abandoning what was seen as a technological advancement, though it was largely done for financial and environmental reasons.

Now, NASA and several private companies are developing projects to bring supersonic flights back. These planes would carry passengers and cargo but also claim to be environmentally friendly and economically feasible.

The XB-1 took off on an “unambitious” first flight to demonstrate that the plane can fly and do so reliably. Following behind was a T-38 chase plan to observe the flight and confirm its altitude and speed.

Measuring 62.6 feet (19 m) and with a wingspan of 21 ft (6 m) , the XB-1 managed to fly at an altitude of 7,120 ft (2,170 m) and reach speeds up to 238 knots (273 mph, 440 km/h) thanks to the thrust provided by its its three GE J85-15 engines, a maximum of 12,300 lbs.

Boom claims that once aerodynamic characteristics and flight worthiness are confirmed, the XB-1 will increase its speed, hoping to eventually break the sound barrier. Innovations include augmented reality vision systems, digitally-optimised aerodynamics, a carbon composite construction, and supersonic air intakes that slow down the incoming air and allow it to be powered by conventional jet engines.

The XB-1 serves as a test bed for the firm’s Overture supersonic jetliner that hopes to carry 80 passengers at speeds of around Mach 1.7.

“Today, XB-1 took flight in the same hallowed airspace where the Bell X-1 first broke the sound barrier in 1947,” said Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic. “I’ve been looking forward to this flight since founding Boom in 2014, and it marks the most significant milestone yet on our path to bring supersonic travel to passengers worldwide.”

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