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April 14, 2024

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Boom Supersonic, who are planing to build the Overture, a supersonic airliner, conducted the first test flight of their demonstrator XB-1, a proof of concept aircraft for multiple technologies to be used in the supersonic passenger aircraft.

A video of the first flight is linked here.

Today, XB-1 took flight in the same hallowed airspace where the Bell X-1 first broke the sound barrier in 1947,” said Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic. “I’ve been looking forward to this flight since founding Boom in 2014, and it marks the most significant milestone yet on our path to bring supersonic travel to passengers worldwide.”

image: Boom

The proof-of-concept aircraft employs state-of-the-art technologies, including carbon fiber composites, advanced avionics, digitally optimized aerodynamics, and an advanced supersonic propulsion system that will be transferable to the Overture.

Boom Chief Test Pilot Bill “Doc” Shoemaker flew the XB-1, which took off from the Mohave Air and Space Port. Boom indicated that the XB1 met all of its objectives for the inaugural flight, successfully achieving an altitude of 7,120 feet and speeds up to 238 knots (273 mph).

Everyone on the XB-1 team should be incredibly proud of this achievement,” said Bill “Doc” Shoemaker, Chief Test Pilot for Boom Supersonic. “It has been a privilege to share this journey with so many dedicated and talented professionals. The experience we have gained in reaching this milestone will be invaluable to Boom’s revival of supersonic travel.”

The flight of the XB-1 was initially planned for 2021 but was delayed by the global pandemic and other events.  Boom has finally completed its first major milestone, but now, it must ensure full funding, an engine, and a supply chain for the Overture supersonic passenger aircraft.  Many doubted that Boom would achieve its goal to be the first independently developed supersonic jet, which will be achieved in subsequent flights when XB-1 breaks the sound barrier.

The Bottom Line

Technology is pressing forward, and Boom offers a lower-noise alternative to conventional designs such as Concorde, whose sonic booms were too noisy for overland flights. While there remain challenges to successfully bring the overture to market, including fuel consumption, noise, and environmental concerns, the first flight of the XB-1 is a great step. As a former frequent traveler on Concorde, I would welcome a supersonic alternative to today’s aircraft.

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President AirInsight Group LLC

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