Last updated: 01:30 PM ET, Wed November 30 2016

Virgin-Backed Company Unveils Supersonic Jet Prototype

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | November 30, 2016

Virgin-Backed Company Unveils Supersonic Jet Prototype

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Imagine flying from New York to London in the time it takes to watch James Cameron's "Titanic."

Colorado-based company Boom Supersonic, which earlier this year entered into a $2 billion partnership with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, has taken a significant step toward making that a reality for travelers, recently unveiling its first prototype, according to Architectural Digest.

The XB-1 — appropriately nicknamed Baby Boom — is capable of flying 2.6 times faster than any other airliner, reaching a high speed of mach 2.2, or 1,451 mph.

That means passengers can travel from New York to London in just three hours and 15 minutes and make the 15-hour journey from Sydney to Los Angeles in under seven hours.

Although a ticket wouldn't be cheap at $5,000 roundtrip, it would be comparable to a business class ticket on today's traditional wide-body aircraft. That's important considering cost was one of the factors that doomed the Concorde.

Other potential issues include sound and fuel efficiency, which the company plans to address through the utilization of advanced materials and improved engine technology. 

READ MORE: Are Supersonic Passenger Jets About to Return to the Skies?

"Our XB-1 demonstrates the key technologies for efficient supersonic flight: advanced aerodynamic design, light-weight materials that can withstand supersonic flight, and an efficient super-cruise propulsion system," the company's website states.

Although the first flight is slated for late 2017, Boom doesn't anticipate launching commercial flights until 2023.

"This isn’t science fiction. (It would be) if I was telling you it was going to go Mach 4 — but, I’m not," Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl told the Guardian. "We’re not using any technology that doesn’t already exist, it is just putting it together in the right way. It will still be tested rigorously."

The aircraft, which can seat up to 45 passengers, would initially fly oversea routes including New York to London and San Francisco to Tokyo. The latter flight would take the XB-1 just five and a half hours to complete.

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