Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Markets | By Rosalie Gross

Japan Airlines Turns to Boom Supersonic for Strategic Partnership

Japan Airlines Turns to Boom Supersonic for Strategic Partnership

A total of five airlines, including JAL and Virgin, have committed to buy up to 76 Boom airliners.

But the promise of supersonic offers what Japan Airlines and at least several others could consider a more valuable luxury: travelers' time. That's about half as many as the now-retired Concorde.

Apart from investing in the project Japan Airlines has also agreed to purchase up to 20 aircrafts, as per the joint statement issued by both the companies on their website. The Concorde, flown by British Airways and Air France at twice the speed of sound, retired in 2003 after nearly three decades in service as customers abandoned the jets amid declining economies and maintenance costs to keep them flying soared.

The aim is to produce a "reliable, easily-maintained aircraft that will provide revolutionary speed to passengers", said Blake Scholl, the founder and chief executive of Boom Supersonic. That plane which passed a preliminary design review in May, is scheduled to fly next year. CNBC reported Boom's 45- to 55-seat jets will cost roughly $200 million each while a roundtrip business class ticket for a flight from London to NY would set passengers back about $5,000. Next year the company plans to fly "the first independently developed supersonic jet", the XB-1 - powered by three General Electric J85-21 turbojet engines.

The money the company already has is more than enough to get it through developing a small two-seat demonstration aircraft and conducting its first test flight, he said. Japan Airlines will be joining Virgin Atlantic as the second major carrier to sign on with Boom Supersonic.

A JAL 777 featuring the older livery design
A JAL 777 featuring the older livery design

Plane makers covet the backing of large and established airlines. Boom's business plan assumes supersonic operations only over water or unpopulated areas, so the company is not relying on relief from United States and European bans on generating a sonic boom over land.

The Japanese archipelago is among the most attractive areas for supersonic flying because planes don't have to travel over very much land to reach big cities.

The speed isn't just attractive for intercontinental flights, Scholl said.

The exemption would be an interim measure, Scholl says, as Boom continues to work with the ICAO on a harmonised global standard for regulating community noise created by supersonic aircraft.

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