From the 1970’s until 2003 Concorde was the way to travel if you needed to cross the Atlantic at speed. The supersonic airliner was a joint venture between the British and French governments. It promised an era of faster international travel.
And while more than 2.5 million passengers traveled at supersonic speeds during that time, the service was eventually terminated. That followed an accident in 2000 which raised safety concerns about the aging fleet. Then an economic downturn.
The public may have thought that supersonic passenger jets were a thing of the past. The industry has continued to pursue the idea of new supersonic jet aircraft.
A Supersonic Revival
At the Farnborough Air Show this year a company called Boom Supersonic began taking orders for their XB-1, a 55 seat supersonic aircraft. Boom isn’t the only company who are looking at launching smaller passenger aircraft. The aerospace startup, Aerion, is working on what looks to be a supersonic private jet. The AS2, developed with Lockheed Martin, will carry just 12 passengers.
These companies are looking to make smaller passenger vehicles, which will transport those who are able to pay for faster flight times. They are not looking to provide travel for the masses, but for those who can afford their services. Travel times will be reduced by as much as half.
The Course is Unclear
While these companies are putting everything they have into a relaunch of supersonic travel to the world stage, there are still problems that they need to overcome. Not the least of which is that there aren’t, currently, any engines in production which are capable of sustaining supersonic flight.
And anyone who has ever heard a jet break the sound barrier will be aware of one major drawback – the sonic boom. There are currently restrictions which prevent supersonic flights above mainland America. These would need to be lifted to allow the services to provide their full time-saving potential.
Perhaps more than that, though, is the question of a market for these flights. With global economies still struggling to return to pre-millennium levels, are there really enough passengers willing to pay a premium to cut a few hours from their travel times? Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group doesn’t think so. You can expect to see avionics firms using marketing advisors such as this company to appeal to those who might take up the service.
And if there aren’t enough passengers for a local service, then international flights will be the only market. The problem with that is that both Aerion and Booms planes lack the fuel capacity for longer journeys. They would need to refuel to complete a trip across the Pacific, for example.
The Supersonic Passenger Jets Revival is Happening
Although there are barriers to a supersonic passenger jets revival, aeronautics companies seem determined to try and make it happen.
If you travel often, whether it’s at a snail’s pace or faster than sound, then these safety tips might just help you out. And if supersonic is out of your budget, rest assured that the advances in technology will reach the rest of us, in the end.