American aircraft manufacturer moves closer to supersonic flight

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April 1, 2024
Today at
15:08

The American supersonic aircraft XB-1 has successfully completed its first test flight. The builder Boom Supersonic hopes that the aircraft will break the sound barrier this decade for the first time since the Concorde with passengers on board.

Is aviation facing a new era of high-speed commercial flights that break the sound barrier? The American Boom Supersonic is working hard on it. The Colorado aircraft manufacturer successfully carried out a first test flight at the end of March with its test aircraft XB-1, which should be able to fly supersonic.

Although the flight did not exceed the speed of sound during that flight, Boom expects to do so within six months. “We will be conducting 10 to 15 test flights over the next five to seven months,” CEO Blake Scholl told CNN.

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test flights

Boom will conduct 10 to 15 test flights over the next six months to fly supersonic.

The XB-1 took off from California’s Mojave Air & Space Port and reached a speed of 440 kilometers per hour. Only when flights exceed Mach 1 are they considered supersonic by the American aviation authority FAA. At sea level and at 15 degrees Celsius, Mach 1 corresponds to 1,224 kilometers per hour.

Augmented reality

Boom’s test flight took place more than two decades after the last flight of the British-French Concorde. The Concorde – together with the Russian Tupolev Tu-144, the only aircraft to break the sound barrier with civilians on board – took off for the last time in October 2003, three years after an aircraft caught fire during take-off in Paris. Noise pollution and high fuel prices also played a role in the discontinuation of the Concorde.


Our aircraft should eventually transport passengers in half the time or less than is currently required.

Blake Scholl

CEO Boom Supersonic

However, great progress has been made since then, says Scholl. ‘Especially in aerodynamics, the materials used and the engines that propel the aircraft.’ The XB-1 is constructed almost entirely of carbon fiber, a very strong and light material. The aircraft is also designed to run on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). This is made from sources such as old frying fat and should reduce CO by three quarters2emissions than when using kerosene.

In addition, the XB-1 would be easier to drive thanks to augmented reality. While the Concorde had an adjustable nose that lowered during takeoff to improve the pilots’ visibility, Boom’s aircraft has two nose-mounted cameras whose images are supplemented with digital information about altitude and flight path. “That will help pilots make a nice landing every time,” says Scholl.

AmericanAirlines

The test flights with the XB-1 should lead to the construction of the Overture. That plane will eventually have to transport passengers at Mach 1.7, about 1,800 kilometers per hour, or twice as fast as most passenger planes now. Boom hopes to operate the first commercial flights, with 60 to 80 passengers on board, at the end of this decade. In addition to American Airlines, United Airlines and Japan Airlines have also already placed orders.

After the latest capital round at the end of last year, Boom had raised a total of more than 700 million dollars. Partners include the Italian Leonardo and the American Air Force. The company’s ultimate goal is to develop aircraft that are “faster, more affordable, more convenient and more durable.” “We’ll keep working on that until we can travel around the planet effortlessly,” Scholl says.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: American aircraft manufacturer moves closer supersonic flight

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