This is an excercpt from the series Far & Away, from National Geographic and The Wall Street Journal.
OF ALL THE JOYS of a bygone era of luxury air travel, Concorde was in a class by itself: supersonic flights that shrank the globe and made the hands of clocks tick backward. Now we’re closer than ever to a return to supersonic flights on commercial airlines, at prices far more affordable than Concorde ever was.
By the end of this year, a bluntly named aircraft manufacturing startup, Boom Technology, says it will fly a one-third size model of its supersonic airliner. The plane is called Baby Boom and it will test design and performance. The full-scale Boom airplane is scheduled to start three years of testing and certification in 2020. Many hurdles lay ahead, but the jet could be flying passengers in late 2023. Virgin Atlantic has ordered the first 10 of the $200 million jets. Other airlines have signed on, Boom Technology says, and a total of 76 orders are on the books so far.
Boom Technology says its Mach 2.2 plane will be able to get from New York to London in three hours, 15 minutes with round-trip tickets priced at about $5,000. Day-trips across oceans for business meetings would be possible. San Francisco to Tokyo would be five and a half hours instead of 11 hours today.
The plane will be roughly the length of a 737, only skinnier, and carry up to 55 passengers. Most rows will have a single seat on each side of the aisle with under-seat storage for carry-on bags. Seating will be about the same size as domestic first class today—38-inches for each row. While lie-flat business-class beds may be an option, there’s no need for them when you’re in the air as long as it currently takes to get from New York to Dallas.