Boom Supersonic demonstrator aircraft completes first flight

Boom Supersonic, which is developing the world’s fastest airliner, Overture, has announced the successful first flight of XB-1, the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet.

Like Overture, XB-1 leverages state-of-the-art technologies to enable efficient supersonic flight including carbon fibre composites, advanced avionics, digitally-optimised aerodynamics, and an advanced supersonic propulsion system.

“Today, XB-1 took flight in the same hallowed airspace where the Bell X-1 first broke the sound barrier in 1947,” said Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic. “I’ve been looking forward to this flight since founding Boom in 2014, and it marks the most significant milestone yet on our path to bring supersonic travel to passengers worldwide.”

XB-1 was flown by Boom chief test pilot, Bill “Doc” Shoemaker, while test pilot Tristan “Geppetto” Brandenburg flew the T-38 chase aircraft which monitored the flight. XB-1 took off from the Mojave Air & Space Port and flew in the same airspace that hosted many historic first flights, including the flights of the Bell X-1, the North American X-15, and the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.

The aircraft met all of its test objectives, including safely and successfully achieving an altitude of 7,120ft and speeds up to 238 knots (273 mph). 

Two decades after Concorde’s retirement, the first flight of XB-1 marks the return of a civil supersonic aircraft to the skies and paves the way for the revival of mainstream supersonic travel. The XB-1 programme provides the foundation for the design and development of Overture, while establishing a safety-first culture in engineering and manufacturing. XB-1 validates key technologies and innovations, including:

  • Augmented reality vision system: Two nose-mounted cameras, digitally augmented with attitude and flight path indications, feed a high-resolution pilot display enabling excellent runway visibility. This system enables improved aerodynamic efficiency without the weight and complexity of a movable nose.
  • Digitally optimised aerodynamics: Engineers used computational fluid dynamics simulations to explore thousands of designs for XB-1. The result is an optimised design that combines safe and stable operation at take-off and landing with efficiency at supersonic speeds.
  • Carbon fibre composites: XB-1 is almost entirely made from carbon fibre composite materials, enabling it to realise a sophisticated aerodynamic design in a strong, lightweight structure.
  • Supersonic intakes: XB-1’s engine intakes slow supersonic air to subsonic speeds, efficiently converting kinetic energy into pressure energy, allowing conventional jet engines to power XB-1 from take-off through supersonic flight.

The inaugural flight of the XB-1 demonstrator takes place as Overture continues to advance toward production, with a growing global network of Tier 1 suppliers and an order book including 130 orders and pre-orders from American Airlines, United Airlines, and Japan Airlines.

Overture will carry 64-80 passengers at Mach 1.7, about twice the speed of today’s subsonic airliners. Optimised for speed, safety, and sustainability, Overture is designed to run on up to 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

www.boomsupersonic.com

Company

Boom Supersonic

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