Wed, Dec 06, 2017 - Page 10 News List

JAL buys into Branson’s supersonic plane dream

The Guardian

Japan Airlines (JAL) has invested millions of US dollars in a Richard Branson-backed plan to reintroduce supersonic passenger flights 14 years after the Concorde was retired.

The Japanese airline yesterday said it has invested US$10 million in Boom Supersonic, a Denver-based start-up aiming to build a new generation of supersonic jets promising three-and-a-half-hour flights from London to New York for an “affordable” US$5,000 return as soon as 2025.

As part of the deal, JAL has an option to pre-order 20 of the Boom aircraft, which it could use on routes from Tokyo to the US West Coast and Canada.

A flight from San Francisco to Tokyo takes 11 hours — a Boom aircraft flying at Mach 2.2 could make the journey in half the time.

“We are very proud to be working with Boom on the possible advancement in the commercial aviation industry,” JAL president Yoshiharu Ueki said. “Through this partnership, we hope to contribute to the future of supersonic travel with the intent of providing more time to our valued passengers while emphasizing flight safety.”

Boom Supersonic had been secretly working with JAL for more than a year to understand more about the dynamics of commercial flight operations, founder and chief executive officer Blake Scholl said.

“Our goal is to develop an airliner that will be a great addition to any international airline’s fleet,” Scholl said.

The Spaceship Co, a wholly owned subsidiary of Branson’s Virgin Galactic, is already working with Boom on the development of the supersonic jets, which are expected to have 45 to 55 business-class seats.

Branson has the rights to the first 10 Boom aircraft produced.

Scholl, a pilot and former Amazon.com Inc executive, has said his Boom would be “better than Concorde” and commercial flights could be up and running as soon as 2025.

While several other companies, including Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp, are developing new supersonic jets, Scholl said his plan was likely to beat them to the market, as it does not require any new technology for regulator approval.

“Think about for a moment the families that are separated because of the long flights. Think about the trips not taken because when you add up the lost hours, the trip just doesn’t feel worth it,” he said at the Dubai Airshow last month.

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