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BOOM Technology Bringing Back Supersonic Jets to Commercial Air Travel
May 17th, 2019 by Sanjay Gangal
“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.
Boom Supersonic Jet
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.
XB-1’s wing requires a high-precision composite structure and fabrication is a multi-step process starting with foam molds, precision-machined polyurethane masters, and autoclave-cured carbon skin molds.
XB-1 is powered by three General Electric J85-15 engines, adapted by Boom for Mach 2.2 operation. Already tested with sustainable alternative fuels, XB-1 and Overture can operate with environmentally-friendly low-carbon jet fuel.
The flight simulator replicates XB-1’s cockpit and flying characteristics. Chief Test Pilot Bill “Doc” Shoemaker is working with Boom's engineers to refine XB-1’s design and to train for upcoming test flights.
Japan Airlines and Virgin Group are future Overture customers and operators, with 30 aircraft on pre-order.
Reinventing the Sky
Boom Supersonic is using Dassault Systèmes’ “Reinvent the Sky” industry solution experience based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to support product development from concept through manufacturing and certification. By using this solution, Boom Supersonic is cutting development time of its first prototype in half and improving product quality by reducing program complexity, inefficiency, costs and resources, thus lowering the barriers to market entry.
“Overture takes new advances in aerodynamics, materials, and propulsion and uses them to revolutionize long-haul commercial airline travel. We need powerful design tools to deliver our vision of a supersonic future, and that is exactly what Dassault Systèmes provides,” said Joshua Krall, co-founder and VP, technology, Boom Supersonic. “As a startup, we aren’t constrained by legacy software systems and aim to keep IT costs low. We quickly and easily deployed Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform and expect to scale up to hundreds of users as our project matures.”
In response to increasing passenger travel and demand for new products and services, aerospace startups, new market entrants and small original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are shaking up traditional aviation industry dynamics with new and emerging aircraft design concepts that aim to overcome technical challenges of the past.
Tailored for product innovation by small OEMs and startups, “Reinvent the Sky” offers scalable access to digital design and simulation applications in a single, secure, and standards-based environment. Boom Supersonic’s engineers, program managers and chief test pilot can collaborate in real time to define requirements, access and reuse common processes and parts with full traceability.
“Aerospace companies are working to deliver faster, lighter, more efficient aircraft without sacrificing passenger comfort,” said David Ziegler, Vice President, Aerospace & Defense Industry, Dassault Systèmes. “Smaller innovators need tools for their product development programs that offer them the infrastructure of more established companies yet allow them to stay nimble and incur minimal IT-related expenses. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform delivers this support. Boom Supersonic can create the next generation passenger experience with digital applications that have long been at the core of the industry’s major milestones.”
So, Boom Technology seems like it’s well on its way for developing the next generation of commercial aircraft that are innovative and fast.
Tags: 3DEXPERIENCE, boom, Dassault Systemes