Boom Supersonic Could Travel From New York to Paris in Just 3.5 Hours

Boom Supersonic

Boom Supersonic Could Travel From New York to Paris in Just 3.5 Hours

Boom Supersonic is looking to revive the age of supersonic flight. It has been twenty years since the final grounding of the Concorde fleet. With Concordes out of the picture, the promise of accessible supersonic commercial flights went with it. There are a multitude of reasons for this particular method of travel falling out of favor. Recent years have seen a revival of sorts in interest and development surrounding supersonic flight. As such, startups like Boom Supersonic have captured the attention of customers and airlines alike.

So how fast can the Boom Supersonic Overture really travel? Let’s take a closer look at the facts, the hard data, and some of the mission statements provided. With these in hand, it should be easy to see where the direction of supersonic air travel is headed.

What is Supersonic Flight?

Supersonic flight is a method of travel where the aircraft is exceeding the speed of sound. This speed is usually measured in something called Machs. Mach 1 is the equivalent of one times the speed of sound, and subsequent increases see it multiplying the actual hard speed of an aircraft. Now, supersonic flight has long been the domain of military craft. There are certain restrictions on supersonic flight which make it less of a reality for soaring over residences and populated areas. Military vehicles aren’t privy to these restrictions, especially in combat zones. For airlines, however, this is a constant consideration.

A Brief Overview of Boom Supersonic

Boom Supersonic is a Denver-based aviation startup. They aren’t quite as established as some of the mainstays in aviation, like Boeing or Airbus. That aside, their initial concept aircraft, the Overture, looks to bring accessible supersonic air travel to the masses. Airlines have already expressed great interest in the Boom Supersonic Overture, with dozens of planes already sold prior to production.

Unfortunately, no production vehicles are in the hands of airlines yet; however, Boom has a prototype aircraft, the XB-1, built to demonstrate the technologies for safe and efficient supersonic flight. Test flights are scheduled to begin in 2023. Additionally, Boom Supersonic announced in January of last year that it was establishing a 400,000-square-foot production facility in North Carolina. This should serve as the final step towards actually seeing if Boom Supersonic can prove its mettle in the aviation industry.

Boom Supersonic
The Boom Supersonic XB-1 is the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet.

©Boom Supersonic 2022

Boom Supersonic Flight Times to Paris

The concept of the Overture has a nominal land airspeed of Mach 1.7 or 1,304 miles per hour. With this in mind, the nominal land airspeed for the average commercial aircraft is around 600 miles per hour. This is quite fast, and far faster than going by boat, but it pales in comparison to going almost 2 times the speed of sound.

Currently, a conservative estimate of how long it takes to travel from New York City to Paris is around 7.5 hours. Going with the known data points surrounding the Boom Supersonic Overture, it can be inferred that this travel time will get chopped down mightily. The actual distance from New York City to Paris is 3,635 miles. With the given land airspeed of 1,304 miles per hour, the Overture would arrive in Paris in just under three hours. Now, this doesn’t account for the boarding process, take-off procedures, and the many other factors that go into an average flight. An estimate of three and a half hours would be right on the money, accounting for these variables. Now, before you start planning trips, there are a few other things to consider.

Boom Supersonic’s Expected Production Output

At the time of this writing, the Overture is a mere concept. No production aircraft have actually been delivered. Further, no test flights have actually been conducted. Aviation is a notoriously hard, and ridiculously expensive endeavor. Research and development cycles for a single aircraft can run into millions of dollars, and that is in the best-case scenario. Boom Supersonic is in a rather interesting position, as they’ve already captured the attention of major airlines. Payment for undelivered planes has already been issued.

With this in mind, Boom is planning on the first test flights of the Overture occurring in 2026. If all goes well with preliminary trial flights, then an expected delivery date of 2029 will see the planes in use by the public. This is certainly a few years out, but developing a wholly new aircraft for supersonic flight is quite the endeavor.

A Closer Look at the Overture

The Overture is the primary target for production from Boom Supersonic, and as such as received the lion’s share of focus from the press. Here are some key things that are known about the Overture:

Cruising SpeedMach 1.7
Length201 feet
Passenger Capacity65 to 80 people
Cruising altitude60,000 feet
Range4,888 miles

The Overture itself represents a next-generation take on supersonic flight. Previously, the Concorde was the only viable means of commercial supersonic flight. Concorde tickets were expensive, and travel locales were limited due to restrictions and regulations meant to hamper the damage and noise of a sonic boom. Boom Supersonic promises the Overture is both more fuel efficient and quieter. The aircraft is also capable of maintaining safe cruising speeds over residential airspace, giving it some degree of flexibility. All said, the Overture looks great on paper. Time will tell if the first production models really live up to the stated specs Boom Supersonic has given.

Boom Supersonic LA to Paris
The Boom Supersonic Overture is expected to be available to the public by 2029.

©Boom Supersonic 2022

Breaking the Limits with Boom Supersonic

Commercial aircraft still remain one of the fastest and safest ways to travel. It is still relatively early in the revival of supersonic flight to celebrate its achievement. If companies like Boom Supersonic are ready to deliver an affordable and accessible means of supersonic flight, then that only poses great benefits to the general public. If the cost of a supersonic flight is only slightly higher than a conventional flight, then it could very well revolutionize the industry at large. Couple that with projects in the works from other competitors, and the future of flight looks astounding.

As previously stated, it is far too early to tell. Currently, what is known about Boom Supersonic is all on paper and press releases. As such, there aren’t any hard numbers to pull from real-world performance. Hopefully, test flights begin sooner rather than later, so more can be gathered about how supersonic aircraft are going to change the landscape of commercial flight. Until then, it is a rather grueling period of waiting ahead of everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is supersonic flight viable?

Supersonic flight has been viable since its earliest days. That said, commercial applications of supersonic flight have been somewhat limited. This is thanks in part due to the effects of the sonic boom released by an aircraft when it breaks the sound barrier. This sound can damage hearing and also damage buildings within the vicinity. There have been numerous incidents in the past of military pilots breaking the sound barrier and shattering windows across town if flying over residential areas.

As you can imagine, this limits the applications of supersonic flight over terrestrial airspace. Boom Supersonic is promising to reduce the noise and effect of the sonic boom with their Overture concept plane, however.

Are any airlines operating supersonic flights currently?

The last commercial supersonic flight was conducted in 2003 before the fleet of operational Concordes was grounded. The Concorde was the only viable means of supersonic flight for a number of years and was still a relatively expensive proposition for most people booking a flight. While conventional flights are slower, they were far less expensive. Boom Supersonic and its competitors are looking to reintroduce supersonic flight to airlines, some twenty years after the final Concorde expedition.

What causes a sonic boom?

A sonic boom is created when an object breaks the speed of sound. The resultant shockwave is from the rippling airwaves surrounding the object as it breaks the speed of sound. Air is a fluid and a sonic boom operates like a massive tidal wave of sorts. Think of dropping an object from a tall height into a body of water and it is a similar effect.

Are any planes in operation by Boom Supersonic?

Currently, all aircraft designed by Boom Supersonic are merely concepts. Test flights are expected to begin in the next few years, however.

Are the Concorde supersonic jets still in operation?

The final Concorde flight was conducted in 2003, marking the end of an era of sorts.

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