Boeing is investing in aircraft manufacturer Aerion to create a jet capable of Mach 1.4
Passengers flying on a Boeing jet might soon be able to travel faster than the speed of sound.
The aircraft manufacturer has formed a partnership with Aerion that should result in the development of the 12-seat business aircraft, named the AS2. The first transatlantic test flight is planned for late 2023.
Designed to fly at Mach 1.4, or about 1,000 mph (over 1,600 kph), it marks a significant moment for Boeing.
Until now, the carrier has been reluctant to move into civil supersonic engineering. It has been trying to avoid potential controversies with regard to the environment and economic sustainability.
“Through this partnership that combines Aerion’s supersonic expertise with Boeing’s global industrial scale and commercial aviation experience, we have the right team to build the future of sustainable supersonic flight,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of the Boeing Next research and development division.
The US has been prohibiting overland sonic flights due to the possible disturbances on the neighbourhoods within the sonic flight path.
The partnership between Boeing and Aerion follows regulation changes proposed last autumn by president Trump and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In the case they lift the ban, overland flights should be allowed by 2020.
However, Aerion and other competitors, including NASA, are working on developing a quiet-boom aircraft to minimise the disturbances.
The history of supersonic travel goes back to the 1940s. As the years progressed, Concorde became the one brand to be most associated with this type of travel.
However, Concorde airliners became economically unviable, mainly due to the increasing fuel costs. The last commercial supersonic flight by Concorde landed in 2003.
Now, more than 15 years later, supersonic travel is becoming a hot topic again.