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NC-bound Boom Supersonic completes test flight of supersonic jet. How fast did it go?

Raleigh News and Observer
Boom Supersonic took a step toward its passenger jet ambitions Friday by completing the first flight of its demonstrator jet, called XB-1, at the Mojave Air & Space Port in California.

The company said the needle-nosed XB-1 “met all its test objectives” including reaching 7,120 feet and 273 mph. This is well short of the supersonic speeds (around 1,300 mph) at which Boom promises to eventually shuttle passengers around the world. In an email to The News & Observer, Boom spokesperson Aubrey Scanlan said the company expects to perform 10 to 20 additional test flights before going supersonic.

“This includes in-flight checks of all systems, as well as multiple test points demonstrating safe margin to flutter (vibration) boundaries,” she said.

While based in Colorado, Boom’s future is intertwined with the North Carolina Piedmont. In January 2022, the startup jetmaker entered an agreement with the state to build a $500 million “flagship” at Greensboro’s Piedmont Triad International Airport. A $121.5 million incentive package between the state and Guilford County helped North Carolina edge out Florida for the company.

Boom pledged to employ up to 1,761 workers at the facility, and construction got underway early last year. The startup intends to use the Greensboro campus to assembly, test, and deliver its prospective supersonic airliner, called Overture, which it hopes to have certified for commercial travel in 2029. The company expects to complete construction by the middle of this year, Scanlan said.

The XB-1 program, Boom said in a statement, “provides the foundation for the design and development” for this future jet, which could carry 64 to 80 passengers at Mach 1.7, or roughly twice the speed of today’s traditional commercial airliners. Supersonic flight begins at around 760 mph, depending on temperature and altitude.

On Friday, North Carolina’s top leaders offered statements celebrating Boom’s inaugural test flight.

“We’re excited about this historic flight and Boom’s progress toward great paying North Carolina jobs and sustainable aviation,” Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said.

Republican Senate leader Phil Berger called the XB-1 flight “a tremendous turning point in Boom’s quest to bring supersonic flight to the masses.”

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