Last week, United Airlines announced that it is planning to reintroduce supersonic passenger travel by the end of the decade. Readers of a certain vintage may remember that the last supersonic passenger flights ceased in 2003 with the retirement of the venerable Concorde jet service operated by British Airways and Air France. The new jetliners, with a planned 88 seats each, are being developed by the aptly named, Boom Technology, Inc., a Denver-based company. The jet will be able to fly at Mach 1.7 (1.7 X the speed of sound) – which means London to New York in 3.5 hours and Los Angeles to Tokyo in 6 hours. Sign me up! Having spent a significant portion of my waking and sleeping hours on airplanes over the years, I am more than ready for the return of this travel option which, for a few decades prior to Concorde’s retirement, was taken for granted – at least for transatlantic travel.
Now, inevitably there are concerns about the noise and all the fuel that supersonic travel involves. However, advances in carbon fiber technology and propulsion systems will enable much quieter and more efficient planes, according to Boom, who last year announced an engines partnership with Rolls Royce. The actual sonic boom, however, is a matter of physics which can’t readily be engineered away. And you have to admire Boom Technology for owning it in its name. The next phase of supersonic travel will be on “Boom jets” and that’s the way it’s going to be – as one might imagine the marketing philosophy of the company and United. They could have gone with, say, Whisper Flight or Mercury Aerotech, or some other more anodyne appellation. Boom, I think may appeal to the sort of early adopter/power-user who flies into London to close an acquisition and then back to New York to tuck the kids into bed. If, to you, Boom sounds a bit Gordon Gekko-ish, but you’d still like to move around the world at a reasonable pace, stick around. If your market segment is big enough, Sylph Technologies can’t be far behind.
For me, owning it, is a refreshingly honest approach, and so Boom gets my appreciation and dollars for that first flight into Heathrow. That’s the scoop for this week.