In a joint press release earlier today, Japan Airlines and Boom Supersonic, a Denver-based startup developing a supersonic airliner, announced a partnership involving investment of $10 million by JAL.
Japan Airlines and Boom Supersonic Partner to Bring Supersonic Travel Back
Japan Airlines agreed to partner with Boom Supersonic in its development of a supersonic airliner. As part of the partnership, Japan Airlines will provide an investment of $10 million and support with development and promotion. It will also get 20 options to purchase the jet.
The aircraft that is currently under development is expected to cruise at Mach 2.2 and enter into service in mid-2020s. Unlike its predecessor, Concorde with 100 seats, Boom’s supersonic jet is expected to have a capacity of 45 to 55 seats in an all business class configuration.
Still A Long Way to Go Until We See Supersonic Travel Back
It’s been almost 15 years since the retirement of Concord – and since then, there has been no passenger supersonic jetliner.
While the Boom project aims to bring supersonic travel back, it is still very far from bringing its vision into reality.
At this point, Boom has commitments for 75 aircraft from five airlines – including Japan Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and three undisclosed companies.
And, it reportedly has enough funds to build a two seat prototype of the aircraft. The aircraft, one-third the size of the final product, is under construction and is expected to take-off sometime next year.
If that happens, it will be the first supersonic jet developed independently.
However, while the company plans to have the jet in service in mid-2020s, I am fairly skeptical about that “deadline.”
While developing a scaled down prototype is certainly a major milestone, it can also be looked at as the real starting line. The real challenge will be building – and then certifying – the “real thing.”
And, given that even major companies like Boeing and Airbus are known to introduce new aircraft into service with years of delays, I wouldn’t be surprised if Boom’s 2020s plan is overly ambitious.
In fact, while I hope I am wrong, I wouldn’t be surprised if it took several more decades until we see supersonic travel back. Whether thanks to Boom Supersonic or some other company.
After all, while a $10 million investment (and endorsement by a major airline such as JAL is nice), it is a drop in the ocean of funds required to develop, build, and certify an airliner.
And, no major airliner has been developed without government support.