Aircraft

Boom Supersonic reveals XB-1 plane built to break the sound barrier

Boom Supersonic reveals XB-1 p...
The XB-1 features a 71-ft-long (21.6-m) fuselage and carbon-composite airframe
The XB-1 features a 71-ft-long (21.6-m) fuselage and carbon-composite airframe
View 4 Images
Aviation startup Boom Supersonic has unveiled a fully assembled version of its demonstrator aircraft
1/4
Aviation startup Boom Supersonic has unveiled a fully assembled version of its demonstrator aircraft
The XB-1 features a 71-ft-long (21.6-m) fuselage and carbon-composite airframe
2/4
The XB-1 features a 71-ft-long (21.6-m) fuselage and carbon-composite airframe
Boom Supersonic's XB-1 is a sleek one-third-scale prototype of its Overture passenger plane
3/4
Boom Supersonic's XB-1 is a sleek one-third-scale prototype of its Overture passenger plane
The three J8-15 engines aboard the XB-1 generate more than 12,000 lb of thrust
4/4
The three J8-15 engines aboard the XB-1 generate more than 12,000 lb of thrust
View gallery - 4 images

Aviation startup Boom Supersonic has unveiled a fully assembled version of its demonstrator aircraft, taking an important step forward in its efforts to build the world’s fastest airliner. The company’s XB-1 is a sleek, one-third-scale prototype of its Overture passenger plane, and is designed to break the sound barrier itself with test flights due to kick off next year.

Boom Supersonic is one of a number of aviation companies working to make supersonic air travel a part of the civilian transport mix, with Virgin Galactic, Aerion and Spike Aerospace all sharing similar visions. The startup only emerged in 2016, with the lofty ambition of one day flying passengers from London to New York in 3.6 hours on a US$5,000 return ticket.

A key part of its roadmap is the XB-1 prototype, which was also announced in 2016 with claims that it could fly 10 percent faster than the Concorde with a cruising speed of Mach 2.2 (1,675 mph, 2,700 km/h). Boom Supersonic had originally targeted 2017 for the first subsonic flights of the XB-1, so it is a little behind schedule, but today showed off the fully-assembled demonstrator for the first time.

The three J8-15 engines aboard the XB-1 generate more than 12,000 lb of thrust
The three J8-15 engines aboard the XB-1 generate more than 12,000 lb of thrust

The XB-1 features a 71-ft-long (21.6-m) fuselage and carbon-composite airframe. The three J8-15 engines built by General Electric generate more than 12,000 lb of thrust, which the company expects to propel the XB-1 to supersonic speeds.

There is something of a cloud hanging over development of the XB-1 and Overture, in that flights in excess of Mach 1 have been banned from taking place over US land since 1973. The US Federal Aviation Administration is, however, weighing up new rules around the noise certification of these aircraft and the sonic booms they produce, and is looking to streamline the approval process for exemptions around flight testing.

Boom Supersonic doesn’t plan to roll out its Overture passenger aircraft until 2025 at the earliest, so it’s very much a case of watch this space. In the meantime, it will carry out a ground testing program with the XB-1 and is targeting flight tests in Mojave, California for 2021. Breaking the sound barrier with the aircraft is among the aims of that program, which the company promises will be 100 percent carbon-neutral.

Boom Supersonic's XB-1 is a sleek one-third-scale prototype of its Overture passenger plane
Boom Supersonic's XB-1 is a sleek one-third-scale prototype of its Overture passenger plane

“Boom continues to make progress towards our founding mission—making the world dramatically more accessible,” said Blake Scholl, Boom founder and CEO. “XB-1 is an important milestone towards the development of our commercial airliner, Overture, making sustainable supersonic flight mainstream and fostering human connection.”

You can hear more from Scholl on the XB-1 in the video below.

Explore XB-1 up-close

Source: Boom Supersonic

View gallery - 4 images
5 comments
riczero-b
The wing is small in proportion to length, so would need high attack angles at landing speed. Unless the enhanced laminar flow mitigated this.
Aleksandra Wladyczynska
I would leave the "more accessible” and "fostering human connection” to the internet. The internet is in every home, connecting people through fiber cables with the speed of light. That said. The demonstrator aircraft is a big step forward. Love to fly one day in the Overture.
ljaques
Nice. Saaaaay, can I borrow that for an afternoon?
christopher
1/3 scale is (except for one single case) an utter and complete waste of time; none of the aerodynamic or motor effects would produce any data that could possibly be useful to a real thing.

The only exception is marketing: a fake plane will inspire investors (at least the ones who don't understand aerodynamics anyhow)
Chris Coles
Am amazed that it would seem no one has bought the Concorde design and set out to reproduce it as a design that has been already fully tested and approved. All the Concorde's on display, (that were not damaged during move to display), are still in full working order.