Boom then bust? The future of Supersonic seems sound – for now

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At what amounts to a relatively calm if not subdued Dubai air show, Boom Supersonic laid it its plans for the future.

Firstly it’s about to select an engine in 2018. The plans require three non-afterburn medium bypass turbofans to get the aircraft to Mach 2.2.

In early 2018 Boom will issue a request for proposals for its manufacturing facility and expects to break ground in late 2019 to 2020 with completion Around 2020-21.

The first aircraft will be a one-third scale demonstrator and tests will begin from Centennial near Denver before moving on to the supersonic range at Mojave that’s linked to the Edwards Air Force Base test range.

The ticket price is expected to be around $5,000 each way at current prices.

Now while it all sounds like a good idea, 76 provisional orders from “multiple world airlines” and interest from 20 more, doesn’t sound like enough to justify 100 aircraft a year production and 1-2,000 aircraft over 10 years.

There is a feeling around this that makes it seem there is a wish, a prayer and a lot of other people’s money. On paper it sounds marvellous, but while it’s supposed to only burn fuel at the same pace as a conventional airliner, how long before another fuel spike? For that matter how long before the next financial crisis which can’t be more than a decade away as The West continues to live beyond its ability to pay? Projects like this vanish in an instant unless there’s a real need.

This isn’t about flying, it isn’t for everyone, it’s about giving the very wealthy yet more privilege. Give the 1% more time, faster travel, time away from the 99%, let them consume more of our resources to save a couple of hours?

I’m betting this will never last, and perhaps it really shouldn’t. The age of supersonic came and went for a good reason. There are more important aviation projects and issues around the world that need the attention of people with imagination, that serve us all, not the few.

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