LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - There could be a new and faster way to fly by the end of this decade. Boom Supersonic, an aerospace startup, is promising planes that travel faster than the speed of sound.
Boom is building a 1/3 scale prototype of the aircraft, called XB-1, and hopes to begin test flights next year.
"Our ultimate goal is high speed flight for everybody," says Boom CEO and Founder Blake School. "To make the fastest flight also the most affordable."
After the XB-1 is tested, Boom says it will start building a larger passenger plane called the Overture. Boom plans to break ground for a factory for the Overture in 2022, with planes rolling off the assembly line in 2025.
"Our goal is to complete all that rigorous safety testing and be ready to carry our first passengers safely in 2029," Scholl says.
The company says it will travel up to 1,300 miles an hour at 60,000 feet. That means a flight from Newark to London could take three and a half hours instead of six and a half. San Francisco to Tokyo could be done in six hours instead of 10.
United Airlines has a provisional agreement with Boom Supersonic to acquire 15 of its as-yet undeveloped aircraft, with an option to acquire 35 more.
The Concorde, which entered service in 1976, was the last supersonic jet to fly passengers. But with tickets costing $12,000, airlines struggled to find enough customers and was retired in 2003. Boom plans to offer seats starting at $5,000.
"Supersonic travel can be done, it can be done safely," says CBS News Transportation Safety Analyst Robert Sumwalt. But the former chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says it will take years of testing before Boom's passenger planes are ready for take off.
"I do believe the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] will be extremely cautious in the approval of a product like this, and rightfully so," Sumwalt says.
Boom says its engines will be quieter and will run on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel. The company is also hoping to eventually get approval to fly over land and offer Mach speed on domestic flights.
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