“Speed creates closeness. Flights twice as fast mean we can go twice as far—bringing more people, places, and cultures into our lives.”
Although travel by air has become more widespread over the past several decades, with few exceptions, aircraft design and speeds haven’t really changed all that much. Boom Technology hopes to reverse that trend with a supersonic transport plane that is currently being developed.
Once operational, the company’s flagship airliner, Overture, will become the fastest commercial airplane in history, flying Mach 2.2 from New York to London in 3.25 hours and from Tokyo to San Francisco in 5.5 hours. The company is shooting for introducing Overture in 2023.
The prototype for Overture—affectionately known as “Baby Boom”—XB-1 demonstrates the key technologies for safe, efficient travel at Mach 2.2. XB-1 combines over 3,700 parts, including custom composite structure, tricycle landing gear, flight control actuators, systems for pressurization and cooling, avionics, and a high-bandwidth telemetry system. The company is scheduled to flight test Baby Boom, a one-third-scale demonstrator sometime in 2019.
Supersonic airplanes must balance low-speed stability with high-speed efficiency. XB-1 was designed using powerful computer simulations and validated through three rounds of wind tunnel testing.
Boom’s aircraft employ carbon composites because they are stronger, lighter, and more stable at high temperatures compared to aluminum. For example, XB-1’s tail, pictured under construction above, weighs just 43 pounds but carries over 10,000 pounds of load at temperatures exceeding 300°F.
XB-1’s intakes provide stable, consistent airflow for its engines across a variety of speeds and conditions. Software-controlled variable compression ramps position shockwaves precisely, allowing efficient operation throughout the flight envelope.