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Here's your first look at Boom Supersonic's faster-than-sound XB-1 demonstrator aircraft

Darrell Etherington
·2-min read

Boom Supersonic is closer than ever to its goal of introducing supersonic commercial aviation back to the global stage -- the Colorado-based startup unveiled the final design of its XB-1 demonstrator aircraft today. This is a fully functional prototype airplane, which will help the company test out the flight capabilities and systems that will eventually make its Overture supersonic commercial passenger aircraft a reality.

XB-1 is a scaled-down version of what Overture will be, lacking the passenger cabin that will offer business-class style amenities to commercial passengers. It does have a cockpit for the test pilots who will help Boom put its design through its paces beginning in 2021. It measures 71-feet long, and its propulsion is provided by three GE-made J85-15 engines that together provide 12,000 lbs of thrust. There are standard cockpit windows, but because of the extreme angle of the nose required for aerodynamics, there's also an HD video camera and cockpit display to provide pilots with a virtual view out the front of the plane for maximum visibility.

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The frame of the XB-1 is made of carbon-composite, which is designed for light weight while also offering very high tensile strength and rigidity, as well as an ability to withstand the high temperatures generated by traveling at supersonic speeds (even in the relatively friction-free environs of higher altitudes). Boom also kept pilot comfort in mind when creating the XB-1, optimizing for economics via user testing spanning "hundreds of hours."

Boom plans to test XB-1 at Mojave Air and Space Port, located in Mojave, California. As mentioned, the goal now is to get that underway next year -- but Boom will begin on its ground testing program immediately. Meanwhile, Boom will continue developing Overture simultaneously, working on wind tunnel tests and other elements of aircraft validation in order to help move toward the target of getting that commercial jet in the air for 2025.

Later today, Boom is hosting a virtual rollout event at its headquarters, with a Q&A to be hosted by Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl. You can check that out live at Boom's site starting at 11 AM MT (1 PM ET/10 AM PT).