Boom partners with Japan Airlines on supersonic commercial flight

Boom Supersonic wants to revitalize and improve the world of supersonic passenger flight, and it now has a new partner on board in its mission – Japan Airlines (JAL), one of the world’s leading passenger flight providers. JAL is putting $10 million into Boom via a strategic investment, and is also going to help Boom with aircraft design and with aspects of the in-flight passenger experience.

As part of the arrangement, JAL also now has the option to purchase up to 20 Boom Supersonic aircraft once they become commercially available. This adds to existing orders from airlines that Boom already has in place, bringing its total to 76 aircraft accounted for across five global airlines.

JAL has actually already been working with Boom for over a year, according to Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl, but this more clearly formalizes the relationship. Having airline stakeholders closely involved in how the development of its aircraft and service plans will work is a huge boon for Boom, which is a very small company with very ambitious goals. Boom is consistently lining up big partners in aviation, however, including Richard Branson’s Virgin Airlines, and Scholl told me this is a key part of its strategic planning.

“Each of our deals is designed to be appropriate for the particular context,” Scholl explained via email. “We expect to do many deals with many airlines. Initially, our goal is to select at least one partner in every region of the world. We will continue to engage with other global carriers to maximize the value of JAL’s investment and bring back supersonic commercial travel.”

Boom’s aircraft design is intended to be able to achieve speeds of Mach 2.2 during regular cruising flight, and can traverse up to 8,334 km on a single tank with seating for up to 55 customers with Business Class-type comfort and accommodations – as well as airfares in line with current Business Class pricing, despite cutting travel times drastically.

In terms of progress on making its supersonic jet a reality, Boom is in the process of selecting a production site for its aircraft, and hopes to have its commercial jet in service by 2023. Its supersonic subscale demonstrator jet, the XB-1, is still on track to fly its first test flight by the end of 2018.