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Supersonic jet startup vows 'affordable' travel – if you have $5,000 to spare

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[h=1]Supersonic jet startup vows 'affordable' travel – if you have $5,000 to spare[/h]

Sir Richard Branson says Virgin will partner with Boom to build and test plane to succeed where Concorde failed – ‘this lets you commute’ across oceans

Sir Richard Branson is hoping to bring back supersonic transatlantic passenger flights, and this time they will be “affordable”.
Branson, who has already launched plans for $250,000-a-ticket flights into space, on Wednesday announced that his Virgin empire would help build a new generation of supersonic jets. Virgin has also signed an option to buy 10 of the planes to hopefully reintroduce 3.5-hour passenger flights between London and New York 13 years after Concorde was decommissioned.
“Richard has long expressed interest in developing high-speed flight and building high speed flight R&D through Virgin Galactic and our manufacturing organization, The Spaceship Company,” a Virgin Group spokeswoman said. “We can confirm that The Spaceship Company will provide engineering, design and manufacturing services, flight tests and operations and that we have an option on the first 10 airframes. It is still early days and just the start of what you’ll hear about our shared ambitions and efforts.”
Branson is partnering with Blake Scholl, a pilot and former Amazon executive, who is building a prototype of the new jet, called Boom, in an aircraft hanger in Colorado. While several other companies, including Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are developing new supersonic jets Scholl said his plan is likely to beat them to market as it does not require any new technology that would need approval by regulators.
“We are talking about the first supersonic jet people can afford to fly,” Scholl, the founder and chief executive of Boom, said. “This isn’t science fiction, we are actually doing this. You will be able to fly New York to London in three-and-a-half hours for $5,000 return, [which is roughly] the same as [the cost] of business class.”
Scholl, 35, said his team of experienced aerospace engineers will build and test a prototype plane by the end of next year and commercial flights could begin with just a few years.
As well as partnering with Virgin, Scholl said he has also signed a letter of intent with an major London-based airline, which wants to buy $2bn worth of his jets.
Scholl said his plane will be able to succeed where Concorde ultimately failed because flights will be much cheaper so that, if they really wanted to, business executives could even commute across the Atlantic.
“Concorde was just too expensive to fly, and to fill 100 seats at $20,000 each,” Scholl said. “You have to bring the ticket price down, and make the aeroplane the right size so you can fill the seats.”

The sun sets on Concorde after the final flight into Filton, Bristol. Photograph: Batchelo Barry Batchelor/PA Boom’s plane will have 40 seats in two rows either side of the aisle, meaning that every passenger will get a direct view of the curvature of the earth as the plane cruises at 60,000ft, as well as direct access to the drinks trolley.

“We are offering a service that’s way faster, but for the cost of business,” Scholl said. “There is a huge market out there, more than 20 million a year fly business class internationally. We can take them to Mach 2.2 (1,451mph, and faster than Concorde which flew at a top speed of Mach 2.04) and save them half their journey time.”
Scholl reckons there is so much demand for faster international travel that affordable supersonic flights could become a $100bn market. He said his plane could work on 500 different routes, but will concentrate initially on London to New York, San Francisco to Tokyo, and Los Angeles to Sydney. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and its equivalents in most countries, bans supersonic air travel overland.
“Imagine departing from New York at 6am, and landing at Heathrow by 2.30pm London time,” Scholl said. “You’ll be able to make afternoon meetings, you can stay until 9.30pm have a full productive day, and and back in New York at 8pm [local time] so you can tuck your kids into bed.
“The same thing works in the Pacific. San Francisco to Tokyo will take four and a half hours, you can leave in the morning have meetings, eat great sushi and be back in California before midnight on the day you left. This is not saving you an hour here or there, this lets you commute.”
Scholl is leading an 11-person team, including former Nasa, Lockheed Martin and Boeing engineers, constructing the plane in a hanger in Denver, Colorado. He said cheaper commercial supersonic travel is possible mainly due to advances in carbon fibre technology, which should enable his team to construct a plane that’s 30% more fuel efficient than Concorde.
When asked if his plans are really going to come to fruition, Scholl said: “This isn’t science fiction. If I was telling you it was going to go Mach 4 [four times the speed of sound] – but, I’m not. We’re not using any technology that doesn’t already exist, it is just putting it together in the right way. It will still be tested rigorously.”
Scholl concedes that he still needs much more funding to get even the prototype into the air. So far Boom has attracted just $2m of investment from mostly Silicon Valley billionaires, but he said he has more investors lined up when he needs to tap fresh funds.
“I started this because I was sad that I never got to fly on Concorde. I waited but no one was doing it, so I decided to,” Scholl 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.”

After improving fuel efficiency of supersonic jets step-by-step, supersonic air travel will become available and affordable

to everyone
to reach any place in the world within in five hours for $100. (less than Rs 6700/[email protected] current rate )

It is a cheerful news even for middle class.
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