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Colorado's Boom Supersonic Reveals Prototype Of XB-1 Commercial Jet

(CNN) - There's been very little good news to report in the aviation industry over the past few months, with airplanes grounded or pushed into early retirement.

However, Boom Supersonic -- which is based in Centennial, Colorado -- is going all out to show that there will be light at the end of the tunnel in the future.

boom supersonic
(credit: Boom Supersonic)

More than 50 years after the world's first supersonic airliner took its maiden flight, the Denver based start-up has made history with the roll out of XB-1, the first independently developed supersonic aircraft.

Dubbed Baby Boom, the 71-foot-long fuselage is a 1:3 scale prototype of Boom's upcoming supersonic commercial jet Overture, which is to have a maximum speed of Mach 2.2, making it capable of flying London to New York in just three hours and 30 minutes.

"Supersonic [travel] has been promised for so long," Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic tells CNN Travel.

"What's different is that we now have history's first independently developed supersonic jet. We have an assembled aircraft with all the technology that we need to do what we're talking about here.

"And it's not a piece of paper, it's not a computer render, it's an airplane. An airplane designed to be safe enough for humans to fly on. So supersonic is here."

XB-1, which has a wingspan of 6.40 meters, is equipped with three J85-15 engines, designed by General Electric, that supply more than 12,000 pounds of thrust, allowing it to fly at breakthrough supersonic speeds.

According to the team at Boom, the aircraft's carbon-composite airframe will enable it to maintain its strength and rigidity "under the high temperatures and stresses of supersonic flight."

The eagerly anticipated roll out of XB-1, specifically designed to "discover learnings" for Overture, was broadcast on Oct. 7 in a live virtual presentation.

While the timing might not seem ideal, Scholl remains positive about the future of the industry and is confident that by the time Overture is ready, the supersonic airliner will be primely placed to mark the return of supersonic travel.

"What's happening right now is we've had a lull in travel due to the pandemic," he says.

"But airlines have really cleared the cobwebs out of their fleets, they've retired aircraft much sooner than otherwise would have happened.

"Travel is going to bounce back. It might take a year. It might take a couple of years. But when that happens, airlines are going to be looking for opportunities for growth and for differentiation."

He also points out that Overture, which hopes to begin passenger flights as early as 2029 if all goes to plan, "gets to be the first post-pandemic airliner."

The designers have taken all of the recent global developments on board while devising the aircraft and there will be "no middle seats anywhere," according to Scholl.

"We want it to be an airplane that people will be happy to fly on regardless of what's happening in the world," he adds.

"Think a fresh air supply at every seat. Think a touch free experience in the common areas of the cabin."

Overture will also offer passengers "expansive views" thanks to large, personal windows at every seat and aims to provide "a sense of tranquility," while making the planet "dramatically more accessible."

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN contributed to this report.)   

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