Supersonic 'Boom' jet promises to fly from Sydney to LA in under seven hours

Want to be able to fly from Sydney or Melbourne to Los Angeles in under seven hours? How about having lunch in London and dinner in New York?

That's the promise of a new supersonic jet dubbed Boom, which Brit billionaire Sir Richard Branson hopes will kickstart a revolution in affordable supersonic flights for the mainstream.

The US startup behind the Boom concept intends to begin test flights of a scaled-down 'demonstrator' jet by the end of 2017, with the full-size plane beginning commercial flights around 2023.

Faster, quieter, better

The Boom jets will be both faster and quieter than the ill-fated Concorde, thanks to new technologies such as strong yet lightweight carbon-fibre composite materials and fuel-efficient engines developed in the 50 years since the Concorde was built.

"This isn't science fiction," stresses Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl.

"We're not using any technology that doesn't already exist, it is just putting it together in the right way."

Affordable supersonic travel

The aim is to deliver supersonic speeds without astronomical airfares.

"This is supersonic passenger air travel ... and it's actually affordable. The idea is for a plane that goes faster than any other passenger plane built before, but for the same price as business class. Our ultimate goal is routine supersonic flight for everyone."

Fares for the superfast Sydney-Los Angeles service would sit at around US$3500 (A$4720) each way.

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The trans-Atlantic dash between London and New York would take just over three hours, down from about an eight-hour flight, at US$2500 (A$3375) each way.

Rapid business

At those prices, Boom's market research suggests, there will be enough business travellers prepared to pay a premium for speed.

"Sixty years after the dawn of the jet age, we're still flying at 1960s speeds," Scholl says.

"I don't know a single person who wouldn't want to get there in half the time … it won't be a bucket-list purchase any more. There is a huge market and the margins are enormous."

Improving on a legend

Boom's passengers would also enjoy a far superior experience to Concorde's cramped seating. The all-business class layout of 45 seats will provide plenty of legroom and just one seat on either side of the centre aisle, compared to the 2-2 layout of the Concorde.

Boom's top speed of Mach 2.2 will bend the needle at 2,716km/h, with the jet soaring at 60,000 feet – almost half as much again as today's commercial flights – where it can slice through the thinner atmosphere while also providing passengers with a stunning view of the Earth's curvature through oversized windows.

One tiny flaw

If there's any downside, it's that seven hours between Sydney or Melbourne and Los Angeles might prove too few to get a decent sleep.

You'd leave Sydney or Melbourne at 7pm after enjoying dinner in the lounge and reach Los Angeles at 7am, ready to hit the ground running – as long as you caught some solid shut-eye en route.

Would you be prepared to pay slightly higher fares for a superfast, supersonic business trip? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.

Few people spend more time on planes, in lounges or mulling over the best ways to use frequent flyer points than David Flynn, the editor of Australian Business Traveller magazine. His unparalleled knowledge of all aspects of business travel connects strongly with the interests of Executive Style readers.

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