“The next big thing, hopefully in my lifetime, will be supersonic travel coming back and people traveling around the world in next to no time,” Branson told Bloomberg in an interview Tuesday. “And hopefully in a relatively environmentally friendly way.”
The billionaire’s Virgin Galactic is already working with Boom Technology Inc. on its supersonic jet, and in December, Japan Airlines took an option to buy up to 20 of the aircraft from the Colorado startup.
The supersonic jet will zip through the skies faster than the Concorde—a supersonic passenger jet that flew at speeds of up to 1,350 mph—or any other commercial aircraft flying today.
The Concorde, which was flown by British Airways and Air France, was retired in 2003 after nearly three decades in service as customers, confronted with heavy operating costs, abandoned the jets.
Boom’s jet is expected to have between 45 and 55 seats and will cruise at Mach 2.2 (roughly 1,500 miles per hour), which will complete long flights—like New York to London, or San Francisco to Tokyo—in half the time. “Our goal is to develop an airliner that will be a great addition to any international airline’s fleet,” said Blake Scholl, the founder and chief executive of Boom Supersonic.
Scholl, a pilot and former Amazon executive, says that Boom’s jet will be “better than the Concorde” and commercial flights could begin as early as 2025. While several other major companies, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing, are developing new supersonic jets, Scholl believes his plan is likely to beat them to market as it doesn’t require any new technology for regulatory approval.
“You won’t have to be on the Forbes’ list to be able to fly, it will cost about the same as flying business class today. The ultimate goal is to make supersonic affordable for anyone who flies,” Scholl said. “Ultimately I want people to be able to get anywhere in the world in five hours for $100. To get there you have to improve fuel efficiency, but step-by-step supersonic air travel will become available for everyone. This supersonic passenger air travel, no bullshit, and it’s actually affordable.”