Supersonic business jet developer Spike Aerospace believes the market for supersonic travel could exceed 13 million passengers annually. “While supersonic aircraft might be ushered in by the wealthy, they will ultimately benefit anyone who wants and needs to get to their destinations faster,” said Spike president and CEO Vik Kachoria.
Spike based its projections on travel patterns of four billion passengers who flew globally in 2017, including a review of origin-destinations, distances traveled, types of passenger, cabin class, and airlines. The analysis in particular looked at flights where supersonic speeds would provide the most value, finding that more than 650 million passengers flew long-haul, international flights of between 2,000 and 7,000 miles. Business- and first-class passengers accounted for 72 million of those seats, a number expected to reach 128 million by 2025.
Extrapolating from this, Spike anticipates 13 million passengers would potentially be interested in such travel when civil supersonic aircraft are expected to reach market in the mid-2020s, the company said. Spike is optimistic about the timing, saying optimized aerodynamics, quieter engines, and composites are making supersonic aircraft viable.
Spike is developing a Mach 1.6, eighteen-passenger low-boom aircraft, the S-512, and said initial plans are under way for a 40- to 50-seat variant.
“This aircraft will actually create demand. It’s not just going to address existing demand,” said Tom Captain, who recently joined the Boston-based company as an executive advisor after serving as vice chairman of Deloitte and leading the company’s aerospace division.