The new Concorde? JAL buys into Branson's supersonic dream
Japan Airlines invests $10m in Boom Supersonic project, which aims to build new generation of jets
The old Concorde jet, retired 14 years ago but now re-envisaged by Sir Richard Branson and startup Boom supersonic. Photograph: HO/REUTERS
Japan Airlines (JAL) has invested millions of dollars in a Sir Richard Branson-backed plan to reintroduce supersonic passenger flights 14 years after Concorde was retired.
The Japanese airline said on Tuesday it had invested $10m (£7.4m) in Boom Supersonic, a Denver-based startup aiming to build a new generation of supersonic jets promising 3.5-hour flights from London to New York for an “affordable” $5,000 return as soon as 2025.
As part of the deal, JAL has an option to pre-order 20 of the Boom aircraft, which it could use on routes from Tokyo to the west coast of the US and Canada. Currently a flight from San Francisco to Tokyo takes 11 hours – a Boom aircraft flying at Mach 2.2 could in theory make the journey in half the time.
The Boom XB-12 prototype. Photograph: Boom press kit
“We are very proud to be working with Boom on the possible advancement in the commercial aviation industry,” said Yoshiharu Ueki, the president of JAL. “Through this partnership, we hope to contribute to the future of supersonic travel with the intent of providing more time to our valued passengers while emphasising flight safety.”
Blake Scholl, the founder and chief executive of Boom Supersonic, said the company had been secretly working with JAL for more than a year to understand more about the dynamics of commercial flight operations. “Our goal is to develop an airliner that will be a great addition to any international airline’s fleet.”
Branson’s Spaceship company is already working with Boom on the development of the supersonic jets, which are expected to have 45-55 business class seats. Branson has the rights to the first 10 Boom aircraft produced.
Scholl, a pilot and former Amazon executive, has said his Boom will be “better than Concorde” and commercial flights could be up and running as soon as 2025. While several other companies, including Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are developing new supersonic jets, Scholl said his plan was likely to beat them to the market as it does not require any new technology for regulator approval.
“Think about for a moment the families that are separated because of the long flights. Think about the trips not taken because when you add up the lost hours, the trip just doesn’t feel worth it,” he said at the Dubai Airshow last month.
“You won’t have to be on the Forbes’ list to be able to fly, it will cost about the same as flying business class today. The ultimate goal is to make supersonic affordable for anyone who flies.”
Scholl said he started the project because he was “sad that I never got to fly on Concorde”.
“I waited but no one was doing it, so I decided to,” he said. “Ultimately I want people to be able to get anywhere in the world in five hours for $100. To get there you have to improve fuel efficiency, but step-by-step supersonic air travel will become available for everyone.
“This is supersonic passenger air travel, no bullshit, and it’s actually affordable.”
Reported by: theguardian online newspaper