Return of the Mach, yes it is, yet it is is is.
In a world where everyone is in a Big Effing Rush All The Effing Time, it was strange that when the supersonic jetliner Concorde was cancelled in 2003, there was no similarly speedy competitor waiting in the wings.
Well, there is now…
A new, screamingly fast airliner, codenamed Overture, is now in the works. Engineered by Boom Supersonic, a crack team of inventors in Denver, this brand-new jet from aims to be some 2.6x faster than any other passenger jet currently available. That means travelling at 2.2x the speed of sound, or some 1,451 mph, which is itself 100mph faster than even Concorde. (See also: the hyperfast train that could take you to Manchester in 18 minutes.)
Because a) sonic booms over land are annoying and b) the sea is massive, the company is focusing on shaking up those long, trans-oceanic schleps. Potential routes include London to NYC in just 3hrs 15, Madrid to Boston in 3hrs 30, or Los Angeles to Sydney in 6hrs 45 – that’s compared to a leg-stiffening 14 hours currently. (See also: the best places to travel this year.)
The service promises to be a luxurious experience, for anyone whose time is money and money is plentiful. The Boom designers suggest it will only cost the same as a current business class ticket, although admittedly that’s still over £2,500 for a return flight to the States.
Each plane seats 55 passengers in primo, business-standard conditions, with all the accoutrements you’d expect.
Development for the new jet is continuing at top speed. They’ve just closed a $100 million Series B investment round, and the company claims to already have 73 aircraft on pre-order (in comparison, only 20 Concordes were ever built) and Virgin Atlantic and Japan Airlines are among early investors in the project. Engineers are currently still building the ‘XB-1’ –a tiny, two-man test version of the plane – to prove their design concept. But they hope for the first full-size aircraft to enter passenger operation in the mid-2020s. (Perhaps by that time, I’ll be rich enough to actually buy a ticket on one!)
Personally, I don’t know if I’d call my experimental new aircraft ‘BOOM’, however evocative of breaking the sound barrier it is. And while my design was still purely theoretical, I might avoid having my company’s initials be ‘BS’. Branding aside, though, it promises to make the world that little bit smaller. Let’s see what happens…