Boom Plane to Bring Back Supersonic Flight

Aviation buffs have lamented the Concorde airliner’s passing for more than a decade. And why not – it was gorgeous, glamorous and fast. But like many things with similar descriptions, the record-setting plane was out of reach for most people.

Boom at Heathrow
A rendering of the Boom supersonic airliner at Heathrow Airport.

Now a Denver company called Boom Technology is working on a supersonic successor that it says will be even faster and “affordable.” Well, at least a ticket will not be as pricey as on the Concorde. Flying on the future plane, Boom says, will cost the same as a typical business-class seat – about $5,000.

Better performance at a lower price might seem unlikely but is possible because of advances in aerodynamics, composite materials and engine technology, the company says. And when you think about it, this makes sense. After all, the Concorde is a 1960s design that borrowed heavily from the 1950s.

concorde3
A Concorde of the British Airways fleet.

The Boom plane is expected to have a top speed of Mach 2.2, or about 1,450 miles per hour. It can cruse fast enough to get from San Francisco to Tokyo in 4.7 hours, or less than half the time it takes on today’s typical airliner, Boom says.

First flown in 1969, the Concorde entered regular service in 1976 and had a largely spotless record until one of the planes crashed on takeoff from Paris in 2000. While the plane’s rapid wind-down and retirement in 2003 seemed to stem from the crash, one could argue the Concorde had already been doomed by its poor economics, driven mainly by terrible fuel economy and limited passenger capacity.

One look inside the Concorde’s cockpit reveals it was a dinosaur in swan’s clothing. There must be hundreds of gauges but no glass panels, touchscreens or fly-by-wire controls in sight:

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