Business and first-class travellers could soon fly between from Los Angeles to Sydney aboard a supersonic commercial plane in under seven hours, less than half the current 15-hour flight time, according to one start-up..
Boom, an aerospace company based in Denver, said at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday that passengers could make the ultra-fast trip across the pond within the next six years, if it's able to pass all certification hurdles.
The company also aims to shuttle passengers London to New York in about 2.5 hours - that's less time than it takes to watch a Lord of the Rings movie. Flights from San Francisco to Tokyo, gate-to-gate, would take 5.5 hours, vs. the current 11-hour travel time.
"Airlines are excited for something new and different to offer their passengers - and we're thrilled that major world airlines share our vision for a future of faster, more accessible supersonic travel," Blake Scholl, Boom's founder and chief executive, said at the show.
Five airlines have already placed more than 70 orders for Boom's faster-than-sound passenger airliners, the company announced at the air show. The 76 aircraft reservations were made by Virgin, which booked 10 planes, and four other airlines that will be announced in the coming months, the company said.
Some experts, however, are skeptical that Boom can deliver on its vision and offer a product that makes financial sense. The European aircraft Concorde, which ended its transatlantic supersonic flight in 2003, was never commercially viable, and with airfare at $US20,000 ($A26,000), appealed to only a very narrow slice of travellers, said Robert Mann, an independent airline industry analyst and consultant. Fuel economy, unproven technology, challenging routing times, and regulations against supersonic commercial flight are key obstacles Boom faces, Mann said.
"These are not commercially off-the-shelf programs or capabilities," said Mann.
There are also some travel limitations. The United States and many other countries do not allow supersonic commercial flights over land, because of the loud shock wave that can pose a nuisance to communities below. But a Boom spokesman said that its passenger airliner is being designed to minimise the noise it makes and that Boom will work to change those regulations.
The company said that it will succeed where Concorde failed because Boom is using better engines and improved aerodynamics and materials to help reduce the costs of operating and maintaining its aircraft. And a business-class ticket from New York to London will could cost $US5000, Boom estimates, far less than the $US20,000 charged by Concorde.
And as for coach-airfare seats, they wouldn't be economically feasible for Boom to offer with the first wave of these planes, the spokesman said, but the company could in the future.
The Washington Post
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