First-ever independently developed supersonic jet on its way

The XB-1 is finally undergoing testing in the Mojave desert.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The XB-1.jpg
The XB-1.

Boom Supersonic 

Aviation company Boom Supersonic has undertaken a gargantuan task: it is building XB-1, the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet. The new airline will support next-generation aviation technology such as “carbon fiber composites, advanced avionics, and digitally-optimized aerodynamics to enable sustainable supersonic travel.”

This is according to a press release by the firm published on Thursday.

Boasting impressive specs

A quick look at the company’s website indicates that XB-1 boasts some impressive specs such as carbon composite and titanium fuselage that measure 71 feet in length and three General Electric J85 engines that produce a combined maximum thrust of 12,300 pounds of force (lbf).

The plane was mostly developed in Centennial, Colorado but was moved earlier this year to the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California where it underwent extensive ground testing including taxi testing.

"The recent progress made towards XB-1's first flight reflects the team's collective efforts to build and safely fly the world's first independently developed supersonic jet," said in the statement Blake Scholl, Boom Supersonic's founder and CEO.

Most recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) undertook a detailed aircraft inspection of the craft in order to award Boom Supersonic an experimental airworthiness certificate.

This key milestone along with letters of authorization and other agreements will now allow Chief Test Pilot Bill "Doc" Shoemaker and test pilot Tristan "Gepetto" Brandenburg to fly the XB-1 for the first time over the Mojave desert. 

This location holds a particular significance as it is the airspace where Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager first broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1. It's also where the Mach 3+, strategic reconnaissance SR-71 "Blackbird" first took to the skies all the way back in 1964. 

Safety is of paramount importance to Boom Supersonic and its pilots have completed hundreds of hours of training in a precise simulator before undertaking their historic flights.

"It's fitting that XB-1 is now progressing toward first flight at the Mojave Air & Space Port, home to more than 50 first flights and other significant aviation events," said Shoemaker, Chief Test Pilot for Boom Supersonic.

"I'm looking forward to flying XB-1 here, building on the achievements of other talented engineers and pilots who inspire us every day to make supersonic travel mainstream."

Laying the foundation for world’s fastest airliner

Most importantly, the XB-1 is now laying the foundation for Boom Supersonic’s Overture, the sustainable supersonic airliner that will run on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel, have a capacity of carrying 65-80 passengers and will fly at Mach 1.7. This speed is twice that of today's fastest airliners.

Despite Virgin Group deciding not to purchase the craft after all, the jet still has many interested buyers such as American Airlines, United Airlines, and Japan Airlines which altogether have ordered 130 of the airplanes.

Boom Supersonic is also in talks with Northrop Grumman for government and defense applications of Overture and has the support and collaboration of several companies including Aernnova, Leonardo, Aciturri, Safran Landing Systems, Eaton, Collins Aerospace, and the United States Air Force.

Both the XB-1 and Overture have the capacity to revolutionize how we fly, introducing a new ear of aviation.

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