It has been almost two decades since the world’s most famous supersonic aircraft was grounded for the final time however, commercial supersonic flight is finally back in the news and tipped to be back in the skies before 2030.
Perhaps what is the most surprising for many is the timing this comeback. The economic fallout from the pandemic continues to reverberate around the world and decimate industries with aviation being no exception. So how, and why, is now the time to bring supersonic back?
Examining the history is a good place to start; the inaugural commercial supersonic flight was completed by Concorde in January 1976 and continued through to the 21st century before it was grounded due to economic and safety factors which plagued its working life.
Some argue that Concorde was a failure, yet 26 and a half years of supersonic service, including halving the time of the London to New York journey, isn’t anything to be dismissed. The aurora and iconic status of Concorde is another success, “it’s always exciting to get to New York before you’ve left” remarked Sting.
So, can it be possible? Blake Scholl, CEO of Boom Supersonic, described this as ‘having to solve thousands of problems, but it is not inventing new science or technology’, it’s innovation and a change of focus. Profitability and environmental friendliness are the orders of the day opposed to vanity, which ultimately kick started the original supersonic projects.
“Why now?”, will remain an appropriate question, but pre-orders by United, Virgin Group and Japanese Air confirm interest within the industry. Concorde’s pre-order book fiasco and final output should be remembered too.
Ultimately, as the world emerges into a new post-pandemic landscape, it is clear to see that speed is back on the agenda; whether the new kids on the supersonic block can innovate their way to reach the levels previously seen by Concorde.
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