The dream of supersonic passenger flight was one that eventually became reality during the 1970s with the introduction of the Anglo-French jet-powered BAC/Aerospatiale "Concord" supersonic airliner into practical service. However, it was ultimately realized that such aircraft would not become a profitable one and early carriers scaled back - or moved away entirely - from purchasing the impressive aircraft. Fuel consumption, coupled with rising fuel costs, attributed to the decline in such ventures and the tragic crash of Flight 4590 in 2000 only served to hammer the final nail into the Concorde's coffin. The series was officially retired on October 24thm 2004 with just 20 total aircraft delivered.
Fast-forward to 2016 and there is rising chatter within the aviation industry in regards to about bringing back supersonic passenger travel. Aerion is developing the privately-funded AS2 "SuperSonic Transport" (SST) (detailed elsewhere on this site) and Spike Aerospace has its S-512 on the drawing boards. Boom Technology, yet another contender, is showcasing the "XB-1" prototype as a forerunner to a more advanced, full-sized form. The aircraft will be used to evaluate various elements and components of a finalized design still to come.
The original aircraft was given only a twin-engined layout, was shorter in overall length and had larger-area wing planes. The revised look, based on available renderings, shows the aircraft to carry Concorde-like delta-wings with no horizontal tailplanes featured. The tail will be made up of a single, well-swept vertical plane straddled by intakes feeding the tail-installed engine. Each wing will also be given underslung engine compartments (similar to that as seen in the Concorde). The nose is to be well-pointed and the cockpit installed directly aft this assembly. The tubular fuselage will feature seating the passenger compartment and be lined with vision ports in the traditional manner.
Engine selection has not taken place for the finalized design as of this writing (2016) though these powerplants are expected to be ready-to-field, Off-The-Shelf (OTS) units and adhere to noise limits required by territories (the target market remains North America). The XB-1 prototype will be flying with 3 x General Electric CJ610 series turbojets. Performance is expected to exceed that of the famous Concorde as a small airliner charged with passenger ferrying, primarily over water routes. A target speed of Mach 2.2 has become the project goal.
The design is scheduled to achieve a first-flight sometime in 2017 or 2018 with service entry set to occur sometime in 2023. Flight tests will begin in Colorado airspace before shifting over to California. Project support is coming from The Spaceship Company (Virgin Galactic) who is also on order for the first 10 aircraft.
Some values included in the specifications below have been estimated and will be adjusted as new information becomes available.
An engineering mockup of the XB-1 subscale demonstrator has been unveiled.
March 2017 - Boom Technology announced it has secured as much as $33 million to fund its XB-1 subscale demonstrator aircraft.
July 2017 - Virgin Atlantic has announced it plans to purchase 10 SST supersonic transports, becoming the first major carrier to do so.
November 2017 - It was announced that Boom Technology will be making its official engine selection sometime in 2018.
December 2017 - Japan Airlines (JAL) has committed to the SST through a twenty-strong purchase option. JAL joins Virgin Atlantic.
January 2019 - Boom Technology has firmed up $100 million USD of investment funds to keep pace with development of their supersonic passenger hauler.
March 2020 - It has been announced that the XB-1 technology demonstrator will not be ready until 2021. A first-flight is planned for no sooner than the middle of the year. A first-flight was originally planned for 2020. Final assembly of the test aircraft is ongoing.
October 2020 - The XB-1 subscale (one-third size) prototype was rolled out on October 7th, 2020. Ground testing to follow with taxi tests in 2020 and flight testing to begin in 2021. Program launch of the official "Overture" airliner is expected sometime in 2022 with tools production in 2023, rollout in 2025, and first-flight in 2026.
July 2021 - Current track shows the first production-quality build to arrive in 2022 with official rollout in 2025 and supersonic travel set to begin in 2029.
Japan (probable); United Kingdom (probable); United States (possible)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
Used in roles serving the business aviation market, primarily VIP and regional travel.
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.
205.0 ft (62.48 m)
65.6 ft (20.00 m)
24.6 ft (7.50 m)
132,277 lb (60,000 kg)
264,555 lb (120,000 kg)
+132,277 lb (+60,000 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Boom Technology XB-1 production variant)
monoplane / low-mounted / delta
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are low-mounted along the sides of the fuselage.
The planform takes on the general shape of a triangle in which the leading edges are swept back for high-speed efficiency while the trailing edge is straight.
(Structural descriptors pertains to the Boom Technology XB-1 production variant)
XB-1 Demonstrator: 3 x General Electric J85 turbojet engines developing an estimated 2,400lb of thrust each.
SST "SuperSonic Transport" - Base Project Name.
XB-1 "Baby Boom" - Prototype / Subscale Demonstrator Aircraft with 3 x GE J85 turbofan engines.
"Overture" - Airliner designation; to be powered by 3 x Rolls-Royce turbofan engines; 65 to 88 passengers; launch expected sometime in 2025.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
Aviation developments of similar form and function, or related to, the Boom Supersonic Overture...
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