20 Responses

  1. Stephen Trimble
    Stephen Trimble at |

    Hey, I’m in this picture. What a hot, stuffy, smelly room that was.

    Reply
  2. Alastair Majury
    Alastair Majury at |

    I hope supersonic passenger travel does return be it Boom Supersonic or another provider. Thanks for sharing your views on this update. Regards Alastair Majury

    Reply
  3. Benet Wilson
    Benet Wilson at |

    Thank you for writing this. It needed to be said.

    Reply
  4. Stephen Trimble
    Stephen Trimble at |

    I’d just add one thing: At least they’re trying. What they’re attempting to do is very, very difficult, though not impossible. I do believe they are sincere and acknowledge the scale of the challenge they are attempting, except for a bit of perhaps understandable sugar-coating in their marketing presentations. The real problem is not really Boom, but the uninformed, click-bait headlines that Seth cites in his piece. They’re not only wildly inaccurate, but they set up an impossible expectation that will inevitably cause the public to turn on legitimate efforts like Boom as soon as they encounter any technical or financial difficulty, which they surely will. My guess is that supersonic flight is coming back, but it probably won’t be Boom that leads the charge. As soon as ICAO lifts the prohibition on supersonic flight overland — and there is path to do so by around 2023 or so — expect Gulfstream and Dassault to jump right in there. Gulfstream’s already done a huge amount of the necessary R&D and Dassault certainly knows its way around a supersonic jet. That’s the real story, and I believe we will see a supersonic business jet by 2030.

    Reply
    1. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      Absolutely agree, Stephen. The reporting on the progress is what I find really troubling.

      That said, I’m also mildly annoyed by the engine situation given the early hype around using commercial hardware for such. Yes, that will be the case for XB-1, but I had inferred that the same was expected for the real thing. Shame on me, perhaps, for not pressing that issue previously. But I was very surprised to hear that it is an open issue still, particularly given the timelines the company is proposing.

      Reply
    2. Stephen Trimble
      Stephen Trimble at |

      The engines will forever be the long pole in the tent for civil supersonics. No engine manufacturer is going to fund a clean-sheet design for this segment of the market — not when they can make a far easier return on their R&D dollar from a subsonic turbofan. Their only path is to convince GE, which has been remarkably open to the idea in principle, to commit hundreds of millions or even billions to adapt a commercial turbofan to this application. It would have been far easier to do this with Tays or JT8Ds, but the new Stage 5 noise regulations that take effect in January basically rule out those engines. Boom has told me they might be able to find a way around the regulations, but I’ll believe it when I see it. And I just don’t see how CFM or P&W, which are barely keeping up with civil demand, decide to commit hundreds of engineers to such a risky and technically challenging project at this time.

      Reply
    3. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      With a market of 1,000-2,000 aircraft (per Boom, so adjust as you see fit) that’s 5,000-10,000 (ish??) engines over 10-20 years. Hard to believe that investing a billion dollars makes sense amortized over that limited production run and timeline. I’m sure there are some folks doing the math on that. Definitely way easier to take that path versus a clean-sheet design, though.

      Reply
    4. Stephen Trimble
      Stephen Trimble at |

      Of course, there’s no way in hell there’s that much demand for a supersonic, 55-seat airliner, but I understand why Boom tries to exaggerate here. If they deliver 100-200, then sell a similar number of a smaller version to the business jet market they will have hit their target right on the mark.

      Reply
    5. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      So then amortize a billion in R&D over 1000 engines. That’s going to be a rough sell. 🙁

      Reply
    6. Stephen Trimble
      Stephen Trimble at |

      It’s not crazy if it’s a derivative of Passport, PW800 or Advance2, but not easy either.

      Reply
    7. Stephen Trimble
      Stephen Trimble at |

      It’s not crazy if it’s a derivative of Passport, PW800 or Advance2, but not easy either.

      Reply
    8. Bernie Leighton
      Bernie Leighton at |

      I still just don’t see how either of those two choices can stand up to the stress of supercruise let alone the stress of supersonic flight without the sustained stress of supercruise. At some point, when you are making an engine work for a strike bomber (which any SST really is) – you are better off using strike bomber engines. I remain fascinated by that part of Boom’s marketing. I still think if they go for it, they’ll have to use considerably larger and less efficient engines to get over the aerodynamic and engineering humps. Reminds me of the discussion of the X-15’s ejection system that can best be summarized as “well, why don’t we just build that and throw away the X-15!”

      Reply
    9. Mike Holovacs
      Mike Holovacs at |

      Why can’t the civil aviation folks design around a military engine? All of the major players in the engine space (GE, RR, PW) have successful military powerplants to work from that can be adapted for civilian use. No doubt they will run into red tape in the form of security disclosures and export problems, but as long as they stay away from the F-22 and F-35 engines (for reasons of supercruise and directional thrust, respectively) there’s no harm in asking.

      Reply
    10. Bernie Leighton
      Bernie Leighton at |

      I still think they need AL-31Fs as their powerplant.

      Reply
    11. Stephen Trimble
      Stephen Trimble at |

      Mike Holovacs Boom has said they don’t want a military engine because of export restrictions. It also won’t help solve the take-off noise problem.

      Reply
    12. Henry Harteveldt
      Henry Harteveldt at |

      IIRC, the ~1000 aircraft market forecast was a Boyd estimate. Soooooo…

      Reply
  5. Michael J. Graven
    Michael J. Graven at |

    A Mach 2 50 seater. Got it.

    Reply
  6. Henry Harteveldt
    Henry Harteveldt at |

    Seth, I like that you pointed out the questionable nature of many routes shown on Boom’s map, as well as the gap between the aircraft’s range and some routes shown on that same map.

    Reply
    1. Bernie Leighton
      Bernie Leighton at |

      I am still in awe about their projections to go to SYD. Let alone where they would stop? I was researching this last night and the only place anywhere within their 4500 mile circle from both LAX and SYD is PPT. PPT is wildly out of the way. There’s no way that flight takes their unrealistic projected time. Same for NRT, but that one is a little more believable.

      Reply
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