Taking consumer air travel back to the supersonic era and speed of the Concorde — and beyond — is what Boom has in store for business class flyers over the next five years. Not only that, in an interview with Boom founder and CEO, Blake Scholl, the company expects that carriers will be able to offer prices competitive with today’s subsonic business-class tickets—about $5,000 for a round-trip transatlantic flight.
Tell us about Boom and how you are planning to bring back supersonic flight to consumer air travelers?
In the first few decades of commercial flight, long-distance travel became steadily faster and more accessible. Ocean liners gave way to piston-powered flying boats, which were then replaced by jet aircraft. But today, commercial airplanes aren’t flying any faster than they were in 1958—the Concorde era has come and gone. With its Mach-2.2 airliner, Boom is putting society back on the path of rapid technological progress that brought us great improvements in the speed and convenience of travel.
For carriers, Boom’s 55-passenger, all-business-class product is an attractive alternative to the status quo. Our supersonic airliner will take you across the world in half the time at fares similar to a subsonic business-class ticket. Not only do you save time, but you’re able to make trips that would have been prohibitively long on a subsonic jet.
When will consumers be able to avail of your services?
Our XB-1 supersonic demonstrator is slated to fly in 2018, and Boom’s airliner is expected to begin serving passengers in 2023.
What will your initial routing look like and what will fares range from?
There are over 500 routes worldwide capable of supporting supersonic service, and transoceanic travel will become much more convenient on Boom’s airliner. At Mach 2.2, a trip from San Francisco to Tokyo shrinks from 11 hours to 5.5. Getting from LA to Sydney, currently, an arduous 15-hour journey will be flown in under 7.
Fare setting will be up to the airlines, but we expect that carriers will be able to offer prices competitive with today’s subsonic business-class tickets—about $5,000 for a round-trip transatlantic flight.
Talk about the short-term and long-term future of consumer air travel from a technology aviation standpoint?
Today’s airlines only compete with each other in a few dimensions—ticket price, quality of service, and comfort. Because all existing jet aircraft take people from point A to point B in roughly the same amount of time, there is little differentiability apart from offering more leg room, better food, or cheaper seats. An airline with access to a substantially faster model of aircraft would be able to radically differentiate itself from the rest of the industry. We aim to jumpstart a renaissance in travel where affordable supersonic flight is the norm.
We believe the long-term future of air travel will be one where anyone can get anywhere on Earth in only a few hours for dirt cheap prices. Affordable ultra-fast travel will change everything. The whole planet will become like one big city. There will be no more long-distance relationships or loved ones you only see once a year. We will simply all be here on Earth together.
Will supersonic flight be a mainstream expectation in the not too distant future?
Currently, we’re building a Mach-2.2 commercial airplane that can operate profitably at a ticket price similar to subsonic business-class fares, but our work doesn’t end when Boom’s first airliner flies. In the future, we’re going to leverage our success to make commercial supersonic travel even more affordable and accessible. Ultimately, we want the fastest ticket to be the cheapest ticket.
Chris is the President and Co-Founder of ExpertFlyer.com, a service that helps travelers get out of the “Middle Seat” by providing in-depth flight info and alerts when Awards and Upgrades are available.