Boom Supersonic reported that its technology demonstrator aircraft recently completed several key milestones
Key milestones completed as world’s first independently developed supersonic jet progresses towards first flight
DENVER—A technology demonstrator for what is reportedly the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet recently completed several key milestones towards first flight, according to the aircraft’s developer, Boom Supersonic.
Boom Supersonic said in a release that its technology demonstrator aircraft, XB-1, uses technologies like carbon fiber composites, advanced avionics, and digitally-optimized aerodynamics to enable sustainable supersonic travel. The company moved XB-1 from its hangar in Centennial, Colorado, to the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California, earlier this year to continue preparations for flight. The aircraft has undergone extensive ground testing since arriving, including taxi testing, the company said in the release.
“The recent progress made towards XB-1’s first flight reflects the team’s collective efforts to build and safely fly the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet,” said Blake Scholl, Boom Supersonic’s founder and CEO, in the release.
In addition to ongoing testing, XB-1 received an experimental airworthiness certificate from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently, following a detailed aircraft inspection. Boom has secured letters of authorization to allow Chief Test Pilot Bill “Doc” Shoemaker and test pilot Tristan “Geppetto” Brandenburg to fly XB-1. Letters of agreement with airspace authorities are also in place, allowing for flights of the aircraft over the Mojave desert, the company said.
According to the release, XB-1’s historic first flight will occur in the same airspace where Captain Charles “Chuck” Yeager first broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 and the Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance SR-71 “Blackbird” first flew in 1964.
Boom Supersonic said XB-1 has provided the company with valuable learnings, including the development of a robust safety culture. In preparation for flight, Boom’s test pilots are reported to have completed hundreds of hours in the simulator for aircraft evaluation, operations development, training, and human factors assessments to achieve the highest levels of safety. The test pilots also maintain flight proficiency in a T-38 trainer aircraft, the same aircraft that will be used as a chase plane for all flight tests of XB-1. To further increase safety, the test pilots will use the T-38 to practice formation flying.
“It’s fitting that XB-1 is now progressing toward first flight at the Mojave Air & Space Port, home to more than 50 first flights and other significant aviation events,” said Boom Supersonic Chief Test Pilot Bill “Doc” Shoemaker, in the release. “I’m looking forward to flying XB-1 here, building on the achievements of other talented engineers and pilots who inspire us every day to make supersonic travel mainstream.”
The XB-1 features a carbon composite and titanium fuselage measuring 71 feet in length. Its ogive (modified delta) wing reportedly enables safe operation at takeoff and landing, as well as supersonic speeds. The three General Electric J85 engines that power XB-1 produce a combined maximum thrust of 12,300 pounds of force (lbf), the company said.
The supersonic demonstrator aircraft rolled out of Boom’s hangar in Centennial in October 2020. Since then, Boom has completed rigorous testing of all of XB-1’s internal subsystems. Upgraded landing gear and supersonic engine intakes were also installed on XB-1, both of which increase performance and safety, according to Boom.
The company said that across its development, XB-1 has validated Boom’s approach to airplane design and enabled engineers to leverage advanced tools like computational fluid dynamics (CFD), which are critical components of Overture’s development. Overture is the sustainable supersonic airliner from Boom that is projected to will fly at Mach 1.7, or about twice the speed of today’s fastest airliners, and is designed to run on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).