During the 2017 Paris Air Show, Boom Technology unveiled the completed design of the XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator, the subscale prototype of a composite-intensive, supersonic passenger airliner. When it flies next year, the XB-1 will be the world’s fastest civil aircraft, and it will demonstrate in flight the key technologies for mainstream supersonic travel.
“We now have everything required to build history’s first independently developed supersonic aircraft—the funding, technical design, and manufacturing partners,” said Blake Scholl, Founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic.
The XB-1 Demonstrator will fly with General Electric engines, Honeywell avionics, TenCate carbon fiber prepreg, and 3D-printed components from Stratasys. As Boom explained on its website, carbon fiber composites have a number of advantages over aluminum.
“Compared to aluminum, carbon composites can be manufactured efficiently in almost any shape, allowing us to implement the ideal aerodynamic design in a strong, lightweight structure,” says Boom. “Furthermore, composites handle the heat and stresses of supersonic flight better than aluminum. At Mach 2.2 (1,451mph), the nose and leading edges of our aircraft reach 307°F (345°F on a hot day). Concorde, built from aluminum, grew about 15″ in length due to the heat of supersonic flight. Composites expand much less with heat, allowing a simplified and lighter design.”
Final assembly and vehicle integration are taking place in Boom’s facility at Centennial Airport, near Denver, Colo. Boom is now up to 76 orders on the XB-1, one of which includes Virgin.
“Airlines are excited for something new and different to offer their passengers—and we’re thrilled that major world airlines share our vision for a future of faster, more accessible supersonic travel. We look forward to sharing more about these partnerships in the future,” said Blake Scholl, Founder and CEO.
The company wants the plane in the skies by 2023 but is first developing a smaller supersonic jet to test the technology. The first flight of the XB-1 Demonstrator will be in 2018. Subsonic flight testing will be conducted near Denver; supersonic test flights will take place near Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California.