What goes in to building a supersonic jet? The team at Boom is heads down working to complete the XB-1 demonstrator model that it hopes will deliver a framework from which it can build its new commercial jet and the assembly is hitting major milestones. The company also released a behind-the-scenes view of the process with CEO Blake Scholl. Typically reserved just for its investors, the company published the February episode to the public and it is pretty cool.
Since the production of the video the company completed the wing assembly, bringing the test aircraft ever closer to its test flight.
Getting XB-1 into the air will be a critical milestone for the company, and one that Boom would like to see happen sooner than not. In Summer 2017 the XB-1 first flight was targeted for late 2018. By Summer 2019 the target for assembly completion was December 2019, with first flight soon thereafter in 2020. Although the company has not provided a new timeline for assembly completion the current state suggests that it is weeks to months away, not days.
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That would put a first flight somewhere in Summer 2020 at the earliest. Just how much that slips the timeline for the larger Overture model that would actually fly passengers remains to be seen.
The update at the Paris Air Show last summer suggested Overture’s first flight in 2025 and a two year test program.
A handful of airlines have committed tens of millions of dollars to help fund the company and getting XB-1 into the air should help unlock additional financial resources.
At the same time, however, the company must contend with the ever-growing environmental impact considerations of air travel and the fact that supersonic flight is perhaps the least fuel-efficient option on the table. Even burning “green” fuels still means burning far more fuel per passenger-mile than more traditional options. How Boom and its airline customers handle that challenge, especially 5-10 years from now, remains to be seen.