Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Japan Airlines puts millions into U.S. startup's supersonic plane

An artist's impression of the Boom Supersonic aircraft An artist’s impression of the Boom Supersonic aircraft
Laurie Berry | 06 December, 2017, 04:10

Virgin Atlantic, Sir Richard Branson's airline, has an option for 10 of the aircraft.

Boom, the U.S. aerospace company hoping to build a "baby" Concorde, has come a step closer to bringing back supersonic flight for commercial passengers after securing a major investment from Japan Airlines.

On top of the "strategic" investment, JAL will collaborate with Boom to refine the aircraft design and help define the passenger experience for supersonic travel, JAL said.

"This is about signaling to the broader ecosystem that this is something that there's real airline customer interest in", Blake Scholl, Boom's founder and CEO, said in an interview with CNNMoney. "Through this partnership, we hope to contribute to the future of supersonic travel with the intent of providing more time to our valued passengers while emphasizing flight safety".

"JAL is the first airline in history to make a material financial commitment to a faster future", Scholl said.

"Think about for a moment the families that are separated because of the long flights".

Earlier this year, Boom raised $33 million to fund the development of the XB-1 prototype.

A file image of Her Majesty The Queen arriving in Kuwait by Concorde in 1979
A file image of Her Majesty The Queen arriving in Kuwait by Concorde in 1979

Boom reportedly has 76 preorders, not including the option of 20 aircraft from Japan Airlines, for its plane that would travel at Mach 2.2, over two times the speed of sound and faster than the Concorde, which maxed out at around Mach 2.

The partnership with Japan Airlines and the hefty financial backing the company has received show there's some faith in the project's commercial viability.

JAL is not the first business to back Boom.

The Japanese airline yesterday said it has invested US$10 million in Boom Supersonic, a Denver-based start-up aiming to build a new generation of supersonic jets promising three-and-a-half-hour flights from London to NY for an "affordable" US$5,000 return as soon as 2025.

The Japanese archipelago is among the most attractive areas for supersonic flying because planes don't have to travel over very much land to reach big cities.

A flight between Sydney and Los Angeles would take seven hours, which includes the time required for a refuelling stop enroute.

The speed isn't just attractive for intercontinental flights, Scholl said. The carrier relisted on the Tokyo bourse two years later.

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