FAA Approves Commercial Supersonic Flight Testing in US

It's good news for startups and companies that are developing supersonic commercial jets.
Fabienne Lang
The photo credit line may appear like thisBoom Supersonic

It's a good day for Boom Supersonic, Hermeus, and even SpaceX and Virgin Galactic — startups and companies developing supersonic commercial jets.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a new final rule to help reintroduce commercial supersonic aircraft.

In the future, it could be possible to fly from Tokyo to Seattle in just 4:30 hours — half the time it takes on regular flights — or from Los Angeles to Sydney in 8:30 hours instead of 14:30 hours. 


The FAA's new rule hopes to facilitate "the safe development of civil supersonic aircraft," as its press release stated. It streamlines and clarifies which procedures are needed in order to obtain the FAA's approval for supersonic aircraft testing in the U.S.

Companies that are moving towards commercial supersonic flight include Boom Supersonic, which debuted its XB-1 prototype in October last year. It's set to start tests this year and soar in the skies by 2029. The company hopes to produce the next generation Concorde, minimizing passenger flight time dramatically. 

Other well-known companies such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are not only pushing forward spaceflight, but also point-to-point, or Earth-to-Earth travel. 

Once these companies launch their supersonic commercial aircraft, long-haul flights will become a heck of a lot more attractive because, well, they won't be long anymore. 

The U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, said, "Today’s action is a significant step toward reintroducing civil supersonic flight and demonstrates the Department’s commitment to safe innovation."

The new rule clearly outlines the process companies need to follow in order to gain the FAA's approval to carry out flight testing.

"The FAA supports the new development of supersonic aircraft as long as safety parameters are followed," FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in the press release. "The testing of supersonic aircraft at Mach 1 will only be conducted following consideration of any impact to the environment."

Read the full rules here.


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