Key Points:

  • Boom Supersonic's XB-1 prototype, aimed at bringing back supersonic passenger travel, is close to its first flight after extensive testing.

  • The "baby boom" has undergone significant ground testing and received FAA clearance, with expectations for a first flight soon.

  • Boom is developing its own engine, Symphony, for the Overture jet, after major manufacturers declined collaboration, a move that could prove advantageous.

Boom Supersonic's Prototype Edges Closer to First Flight

DOVE VALLEY — Colorado-based startup Boom Supersonic is progressing towards reintroducing ultra-fast passenger travel, reminiscent of the Concorde era, with its Mach 1.7 Overture passenger jet. The company's prototype, the XB-1, also known as the "baby boom," is advancing towards its maiden flight. Since 2020, the XB-1 has undergone comprehensive ground testing, which included subsystem evaluations and enhancements to its engines and landing gear.

More recent developments for the XB-1 include taxi testing in the Mojave desert and obtaining an experimental airworthiness certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These milestones have been crucial in preparing the aircraft for its first flight, which Boom CEO Blake Scholl hinted in August could occur by the end of the year. As of early November, the company reaffirmed this timeline, as reported by Axios, with the prototype continuing ground tests and awaiting further FAA approvals. Business Insider received confirmation from Boom on Tuesday that significant progress has been made, and the XB-1's inaugural flight is expected soon.

Design Innovations and Engine Development Challenges

The 71-foot-long Baby Boom features a state-of-the-art design with a carbon composite and titanium fuselage and unique gull wings, ensuring safe operations at various speeds, including supersonic. Its aerodynamic design is akin to the planned Overture jet, which has garnered interest from United Airlines and American Airlines. The Overture is anticipated to significantly reduce transatlantic flight times to under four hours by 2030.

However, Boom faces a distinct challenge with the Overture's engine development. Unlike the XB-1, which is powered by three proven General Electric J85 engines, the Overture will feature an in-house built engine, named Symphony. This decision followed the decline of major engine manufacturers, including Pratt & Whitney, GE, Honeywell, Safran Aircraft Engines, Rolls-Royce, and CFM International, to collaborate on the project. Despite this setback, Boom remains steadfast in its supersonic aspirations, with the potential for the Symphony engine to become a valuable asset.

In preparation for the XB-1's initial flight, Boom's test pilots have completed hundreds of hours of training in simulators and trainer aircraft. This rigorous preparation underscores the company's commitment to revolutionizing supersonic travel. As Boom Supersonic edges closer to launching the XB-1, the aviation industry watches keenly, anticipating the potential resurgence of faster-than-sound passenger flights.