Will supersonic passenger planes boom again?

SINCE the moment that three British Airways Concordes touched down at Heathrow in 2003, on their final journey before being retired from service, air-heads have pined for the days of supersonic passenger jets. Concordes were cramped and noisy, but they were the very emblem of the jet-setting elite. One’s time had to be very valuable indeed to justify paying thousands of pounds extra to shave three-and-a-half hours off of a transatlantic trip.

One of Concorde’s most wide-eyed fans was Richard Branson. The airline boss apparently kept a model of the plane—with his Virgin livery replacing British Airways’, naturally—on his desk. Little wonder, then, that he is putting his effort behind the latest in a line of pretenders to the supersonic crown.

This week Boom Technology unveiled a prototype of a plane that will eventually be capable of flying at Mach 2.2. That would allow the three-engine, 50-seat jet (pictured above) to cross the Atlantic in three hours and thirty minutes, about the same as the old Concorde. It hopes to test a one-third-sized model in the skies next year, with the final version ready to take paying passengers in 2023—20 years after the…Continue reading

This post was originally published in the Economist.

Will supersonic passenger planes boom again?

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