A supersonic future for private jets?

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Flying at the speed of light has been a dream of humankind ever since the first aircraft took flight. But can supersonic flights become the norm in the future of flying? They certainly can cut flight times but are on the costly side of travelling. That was one of the main reasons behind the retirement of the Concorde planes, which for 27 years were flying at 1,300 mph.

Modernized approaches 

Even though Concorde did not prove to be cost-effective, engineers can’t seem to give up trying. There are two different approaches to developing the next generation of supersonic aircraft: using the technology for private jets and trying to build supersonic planes for larger groups. The goal is to reduce the time spent on long flights with estimated journey times as short as New York to London in three hours, 15 minutes.

Aerion Supersonic 

Plane: AS2 

Cruising Speed: MACH 1.4 

First Scheduled Flight: 2023 

Aerion is developing a 12-seater business jet that has the capability of flying direct from New York to Sao Paulo and London to Beijing. It’s planning to develop bigger and faster variants of the AS2 as well, including potential commercial models. 

The AS2's first flight is scheduled for 2023 and the company intends to take the plane to market in 2026. The AS2 will cost $120 million, which the company thinks is a price that people will pay because of the time savings.

Spike Aerospace 

Plane: SPIKE S-512 

Cruising Speed: MACH 1.6 

First Scheduled Flight: 2023 

Spike Aerospace is developing a 12 to 18 person quiet supersonic jet claiming the S-512 will be the fastest civilian aircraft available. It’s aiming to fly Dubai to New York non-stop in nearly half the time it currently takes. They are developing the $125 million plane with the help of Greenpoint Technologies and Siemens.

Boom Supersonic 

Plane: Overture 

Cruising Speed: MACH 2.2 

First Scheduled Flight: mid 2020’s 

Boom Supersonic is developing a 55-seater aircraft named Overture with an aim to fly at Mach 2.2, which is more than twice the speed of sound. The company claims that passengers will “arrive in half the time for about the same fare as today’s business class”. 

Boom says it has received pre-orders for 30 Overture planes, with customers including Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Japan Airlines.

But despite all the effort, supersonic flights are still some years away from reality. People have always been excited to travel at the speed of sound, but much of the efforts resulted in no real developments. Will it be different this time? 

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