U.S. supersonic airliner developer Boom Supersonic (Stand 1676) yesterday launched the manufacturing site selection process for its planned 55-passenger Mach 2.2 aircraft, which it projects will enter service in late 2023, saying it believes the Middle East could be the best place for the final assembly site. Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl said he sees a need for “1,000 to 2,000 airplanes over the first ten years...so we need a site that can build 100 per year.” A formal RFP for the production site will be issued in the first quarter of next year.
Meanwhile, having conducted successful wind tunnel tests this year at Wichita State University and received $33 million in private funding for development, the company is on track to fly its XB-1 demonstrator by the end of 2018.
Bolstering production plans, Boom also announced two key additions to its team: Bill James, whose prior work includes leading the wing design team for the Airbus A380 as vice president of production operations, and Lourdes Maurice, former executive director of the FAA Office of Environment and Energy, who is joining Boom’s advisory board.
Even with prohibitions on civil supersonic flight over land, about 500 routes are “economically viable,” Scholl said, with costs for passengers equivalent to subsonic business class. “A ticket would cost about $5,000 for transoceanic” passage between the U.S. and Europe. Scholl noted he believes flight over land, prohibited due to concerns about sonic booms, will be allowed in the future. In the airport environment, the aircraft would be quieter than conventional jet airliners, according to Scholl.
While its projected 4,500 nm range isn’t sufficient for trans-Pacific routes, even with a technical stop in Tahiti for fuel, total travel time would be half the current 15 hours between the U.S. and Australia. About 10 percent of the 500 viable routes pass through the Middle East, which is “ideally positioned as a connecting hub between Australia, Asia and Europe," he said. The region could also be an ideal site for Boom’s planned production facility, Scholl hinted. “The theme of this year’s show is ‘the future of travel,’ and the UAE is home to the most forward-thinking visionaries in transportation,” said Scholl, adding, “Supersonic flight is the most significant leap forward since the jet.”