Boom Supersonic XB-1 Demonstrator Completes First Flight

Daniel Fowkes
23 Mar 2024
· Aircraft 
Boom Supersonic says its XB-1 Demonstrator has completed its first flight, a key step in the mission for supersonic flight to return.

Boom Supersonic has announced the completion of the first flight for its XB-1 Demonstrator aircraft, the Baby Boom.

The first flight of the XB-1 has been years in the making and follows several missed timeframes as the process drew on complications and natural challenges.

XB-1 is crucial in Boom Supersonic’s efforts to bring back supersonic air travel with its upcoming Overture. The testing phase of this demonstrator will allow for essential results that will shape the project’s future.

Boom says that Chief Test Pilot Bill Shoemaker flew the XB-1 on its first flight, with Test Pilot Tristan Brandenburg flying a T-38 chase aircraft behind, which acted as a critical monitoring device.

The flight departed and landed from Mojave Air and Space Port, which was important to the demonstrator’s ground testing phase, as it passed the relevant tests to become airborne.

During its first flight, the XB-1 reached an altitude of 7,120 feet and achieved speeds of 238 knots or 273mph. Generally, the team regarded it as a successful first flight. Boom noted that the XB-1 met all the test objectives, including key safety ones.

Today, XB-1 took flight in the same hallowed airspace where the Bell X-1 first broke the sound barrier in 1947. I’ve been looking forward to this flight since founding Boom in 2014, and it marks the most significant milestone yet on our path to bring supersonic travel to passengers worldwide.

Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic.

Validating Technology and More

Boom Supersonic says the XB-1 will validate key technologies and innovations that the company has worked on for a long time.

This includes supersonic intakes, with the demonstrator’s engines absorbing slow supersonic air to subsonic speeds, essentially converting kinetic energy into pressure energy.

Additionally, the carbon fibre composites will allow Boom to understand better how this supports an overall sophisticated but also aerodynamic design that remains light.

Boom finally adds that optimised aerodynamics and augmented reality vision systems will be the focus with the validation of these key engineering and manufacturing decisions.

Overture Orders

While there has been some pushback regarding the interest in Overture, let alone if it’ll be delivered to airlines, the company highlighted its order book.

130 orders and pre-orders are present from American Airlines, United Airlines, and Japan Airlines, with several Tier 1 suppliers also backing the project.

Once built, the expectation is that Overture will fly at Mach 1.7 and carry anywhere from 64 to 80 passengers, depending on the chosen configuration.

The successful flight of the XB-1 is a hugely positive step in the right direction for Boom. However, they’ll have a lot on their plate to achieve their full ambitions. Boom says it’s up for the challenge.

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