JAL buys into Branson's supersonic plane dream

Gladys Abbott
December 7, 2017

Japan Airlines, or JAL, has invested $10 million into Boom Technologies, a Denver-based startup that wants to revive supersonic air travel by the middle of the next decade. Japan Airlines will also lend its knowledge and experience to help Boom develop its supersonic passenger aircraft, which could fly at a speed of Mach 2.2 (1,451 mph) and cut worldwide travel times in half as soon as 2023.

Further, there would also be collaboration between the pair to "refine the aircraft design and help define the passenger experience for supersonic travel".

But the promise of supersonic offers what Japan Airlines and at least several others could consider a more valuable luxury: travelers' time.

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Last year Branson teamed up with the startup to reveal its prototype jet, which will carry passengers from London to NY in three and a half hours for an "affordable" $5,000 return. "Through this partnership, we hope to contribute to the future of supersonic travel with the intent of providing more time to our valued passengers while emphasizing flight safety". Our seats will be at the same price as a normal business class or first class seat and you can fly from Dubai to London in four and a half hours. The aircraft, which aims for an entry into service in the mid-2020s, will have a range of 8,334 kilometers, roughly the distance between Beijing and London.

Boom Supersonic had been secretly working with JAL for more than a year to understand more about the dynamics of commercial flight operations, founder and chief executive officer Blake Scholl said. We're thrilled to be working with JAL to develop a reliable, easily maintained aircraft that will provide revolutionary speed to passengers.

Apart from investing in the project Japan Airlines has also agreed to purchase up to 20 aircrafts, as per the joint statement issued by both the companies on their website. The Franco-British jet traveled at twice the speed of sound, crossing the Atlantic in just three and a half hours. Having airline stakeholders closely involved in the development of its aircraft and service plans will work in practice is a huge boon for Boom, which is a very small company with very ambitious goals. So far, Boom has received 76 options from carriers around the world and there are three unnamed companies picking up the remaining unlisted 46 options.

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