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NEWS Update


The Boom aircraft will be capable of speeds up to Mach 2.2, or 1,451 mph


Ambitions run sky high for a supersonic commercial fleet


Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom, cannot be accused of lacking ambition. He made his name founding Amazon’s Automated Advertising team, which became a $300 million business function, before founding Kima Labs, an e-commerce business bought by Groupon. However, his latest mission is his boldest yet. “The first 50 years of aviation were dedicated to regular progress in speed, comfort and safety,” he believes. “We hope to reignite a new era of progress in making Earth a smaller, more accessible place.”


A qualified pilot, he believes his ambition to bring supersonic travel back to commercial airlines is achievable in the early 2020s. While Aerion’s AS2 will also reach supersonic speed, Boom is the only manufacturer working on commercial airliners. Its XB-1 demonstrator is slated for its first flight later this year and Scholl expects a significant level of interest in the aircraft. “Today, airlines compete on cost and amenities,” Scholl says. “The Boom supersonic aircraft opens an opportunity for airlines to offer a new, radically differentiated offering for their most valued travellers.” The Boom aircraft is projected


to be capable of speeds reaching Mach 2.2, or 1,451 mph, faster than Concorde’s Mach 2.0 and 2.6 times faster than any other airliners. This


12 ISSUE 1 ROUTES NEWS 2017 routesonline.com


will enable it to radically cut journey times on routes throughout the world, with Scholl confident of the range of potential routes. Moreover, a range of 17,688km means many of the world’s key long- haul routes could benefit from the aircraft’s use. “More than 500 routes have enough traffic for supersonic service and the opportunity for meaningful speedups,” he argues. “San Francisco to Tokyo shrinks from 11 hours to 5 and a half hours; LA to Sydney improves from an arduous 15 to just 6 hours 45 minutes. Any transatlantic or transpacific route will experience significant speedups, as will Asia/ Pacific routes such as Hong Kong to Perth or Sydney.” He has already attracted interest


from Richard Branson, whose Virgin Group has optioned 10 aircraft in a deal “ultimately valued” at about $2 billion. Furthermore, an unnamed European carrier has also optioned a further 15; but Scholl believes this is just the tip of the iceberg for the aircraft’s likely demand. “Asian, Gulf and South American carriers will also see great value in using Boom airplanes to fly travellers faster,” he says. “The Boyd Group released an independent analysis on the Boom Supersonic aircraft that projects a demand of 1,317 Boom aircraft in the 2023-2032 timeframe.”


This projected demand is underpinned, Scholl believes, by a sound commercial basis, which takes lessons from the iconic but ultimately economically unsuccessful Concorde aircraft with which it will somewhat inevitably be compared. “The problem with Concorde was that it was too expensive to operate – pushing tickets to a $20,000 round trip,” says Scholl. “The root cause was poor fuel economy, which led to a lack of economy of scale. “The Boom aircraft uses modern


aerospace technologies such as carbon fibre composites and turbofan engines to achieve a significant improvement in fuel economy. With operating costs like subsonic business class and a 45-seat premium cabin, the Boom aircraft is viable on more than 500 routes and will achieve great economies of scale.” With such confidence in the applications and demand, Scholl’s ambitions for Boom extend far beyond a single aircraft. “Our ultimate goal is affordable supersonic travel for everyone,” he says. “We’re starting with a 45-seat aircraft with business-class economics, but this is just the beginning,” he says.


• Blake Scholl will be joining the line-up of speakers at Routes Americas 2016, taking place in Las Vegas on 14-16 February. He will be speaking in the “Supersonic travel: redefining route development” session.


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