Boom’s XB-1 supersonic jet has been authorized to break the speed of sound

Boom’s XB-1 supersonic jet has been authorized to break the speed of sound

Boom’s supersonic XB-1 test jet has received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to fly past Mach 1, the company announced. Tests are slated to take place later this year at the Black Mountain Supersonic Corridor in Mojave, CA, and the results could help prove the feasibility of the design in areas like fuel consumption, speeds and flight characteristics.

“Following XB-1’s successful first flight, I’m looking forward to its historic first supersonic flight,” said Boom Supersonic founder and CEO Blake Scholl. “We thank the Federal Aviation Administration for supporting innovation and enabling XB-1 to continue its important role of informing the future of supersonic travel.”

The approval arrives just weeks after a successful X-B1 test flight at subsonic speeds by a pair of test pilots. It follows a thorough review and environmental assessment, and mandates a chaise plane to trail the XB-1 to monitor and record flight safety, according to the company.

The company will conduct 10-20 flights before attempting to break the speed of sound. It will “systematically expand the flight envelope during that time” to confirm performance and handling qualities, Boom said, while performing in-flight checks of all systems and demonstrating a safe margin to flutter/vibration boundaries. Test pilot Tristan “Geppetto” Brandenberg will be at the controls during the first supersonic flight.

Passenger flights are still a long way off, though. The XB-1 is a scaled-down version of Boom’s ultimate goal, a commercial liner called Overture that’s expected to carry under 100 passenger at “business class” comfort levels. The company has said that plane will be able to fly from Tokyo to Seattle in four hours and thirty minutes.

The company has seen its share of issues, with test plans delayed and a rupture with original engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce. The company subsequently partnered with a company called FTT to develop its own custom “Symphony” jet engine. Still, the company already has customers lined up, with American Airlines and United Airlines having place orders for multiple jets.

NASA is also working on a supersonic jet called the X-59 with a reduced sonic profile, but Boom Supersonic hasn’t provided much detail on how it plans to reduce the, well, supersonic boom.

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