Can These Industrious Companies Resurrect Supersonic Flight?

Commercial travel at Mach 2 could be here within just a few years.

By Rohit Jaggi 24/10/2019

The machinery may be designed for speed, but the pace of progress in commercial supersonic aircraft has been glacial. After all, the Concorde, which could cruise at twice the speed of sound, was already in service back in 1976. But the drag may be diminishing in a regulatory environment that’s less hostile to supersonic flight than it has been in decades. That could mean commercial travel at Mach 2 within just a few years. Several companies stand at the vanguard, engines ready.



Denver-based start-up Boom Supersonic has preorders for 20 aircraft from Japan Airlines and 10 from Virgin Group for its Overture airliner, with seats for as many as 75 passengers. Projected speeds of Mach 2.2, or 2335km/h, would halve the 11-hour flight from Tokyo to San Francisco. Boom aims to have the plane in service by the middle of the next decade, and its smaller prototype, the XB-1, is expected to break the sound barrier next year.



Lockheed Martin has unveiled a design for a Quiet Supersonic Technology Airliner (QSTA) that would cruise at Mach 1.8 and carry 40 passengers. The company is also working with NASA on cutting the sound of a supersonic plane from a window-breaking boom to something that causes neither damage nor noise pollution on the ground.

Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin Quiet Supersonic Technology Airliner – Lockheed Martin



Boston-based Spike Aerospace is another entrant looking for a share. It aims to have a two-thirds prototype of its 18-passenger Mach 1.6 airliner flying in 2021, with projected first deliveries in 2025.

Aerion AS2 in Clouds
Aerion AS2 Getty Images



And then there is Aerion. The Reno company has been plugging away with plans for a supersonic business jet since 2003. Partners have come and gone, but the current lineup of Honeywell, Boeing, GE Aviation and Spirit AeroSystems sounds promising for its 12-seat, Mach 1.4 plane.



In an arena where speed is key, though, another company plans to streak ahead. The British firm Reaction Engines is working on SABRE, a revolutionary combination jet and rocket engine, trials of which start next year. The goal is to have it power reusable space vehicles and Mach 5 intercontinental airliners. London to Sydney in four and a half hours, anyone?

ADVERTISE WITH US

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

Maserati Will Say Goodbye to the GranTurismo So It Can Build an Electric GranTurismo

The automaker is saying goodbye to the current Pininfarina-designed coupé with the one-off Zéda.

By Bryan Hood

13/11/2019

It’s Official: Mercedes-Benz Is Developing an Electric G-Wagen

Daimler AG CEO Ola Källenius confirmed that the company is developing an electric version of the SUV.

By Bryan Hood

12/11/2019

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Just Got the Black Badge Treatment

The marque goes after a younger demographic with Its now edgier SUV.

By Howard Walker

10/11/2019

Hog Wild! Harley-Davidson Just Debuted Two New Bikes With Liquid-Cooled Engines

The Pan America adventure touring bike and the Bronx streetfighter model will be available in late 2020.

By Rachel Cormack

08/11/2019

Get the Magazine

Subscribe to Robb Report today!

Subscribe today

Stay Connected