Boom Authorized To Boom


For the first time in its history, the FAA has issued a special flight authorization to allow Boom Supersonic to break the sound barrier. The approval will allow the Colorado startup to fly its XB-1 demonstrator aircraft faster than Mach 1 up to 20 times over the next year in the Black Mountain Supersonic Corridor in Mojave, California. The plane flew for the first time March 22 and is expected to validate the technology Boom will use to build Overture, the supersonic airliner Boom hopes will restart civilian supersonic air travel.

“Following XB-1’s successful first flight, I’m looking forward to its historic first supersonic flight,” said Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic. “We thank the Federal Aviation Administration for supporting innovation and enabling XB-1 to continue its important role of informing the future of supersonic travel.” The company says it will warm up for breaking the sound barrier with 10 to 20 flights, each faster than the previous one. After the first boom, they’ll go up in speed in 0.1 Mach increments to 1.3.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. They are building a plane that they cannot fly without special flight authorization in the USA; can’t fly at all in many other countries? That’s interesting.

    • Arthur, the reason lies in it’s title. It’s a “demonstrator aircraft” meant to show if a new design employing new discoveries that would reduce the sonic boom footprint sufficiently enough to make it palatable to the general population. Between this and NASA’s X-59 there should be sufficient data to have an INFORMED discussion on whether or not to remove the regulatory restriction. If yes, then other nations/regulators will follow suit. The economics of the airplane are a different matter, and should be left to the private sector.

      • They need a target threshold first, and a guarantee that the laws will change if they can meet the threshold. That is the INFORMED way to do an engineering project. You’re suggesting the opposite.

        • I made no such suggestion. YOU inferred what you wanted to infer. Sound level are perceived differently by people depending on age and background noise levels at their locale, amongst other factors. That by the way is why it’s called EPNL, Effective Perceived Noise Levels (EPN Db). Someone who lives in a major metro area can tolerate a higher pressure level because of the background noise than one who lives in a rural area. Older folks who have degraded hearing will need a higher pressure level to illicit a response to stimulus compared to someone with non-degraded hearing. That is included in an INFORMED analysis.

          • The INFORMED discussion starts with these flights being illegal and thus requiring a test flight waiver. You ARE suggesting that they produce a plane that they cannot legally fly and THEN start to “discuss”? That’s a “field of dreams” movie plot, not sober analysis!

        • “[need] a guarantee that the laws will change […]. That is the INFORMED way to do an engineering project.”

          That may be an ‘informed’ way to run a business project, but engineering should NOT be clouded by regulations or economics.

          Isn’t that what Boeing learned?

          an INFORMED discussion on whether or not to remove the regulatory restriction

  2. Exciting times, I love seeing people with vision (and their own money) try to move technology forward. A lot of hurdles to overcome before this becomes commercially viable, but the only way forward is to take it one step at a time and keep pushing. Best of luck to Boom!

  3. This is not the first time the FAA has given approval to break the sound barrier. They granted the SR71 to do so at Oshkosh on the 50th anniversary of Chuck Yeager breaking it. (cant remember the year, Late 90s). But the SR71 had a fuel dump valve problem and was unable to to it.

    • I would assume they gave permission for one of the Blackbird’s record setting last flight: speed records for west coast to east, as well as for three city pairs, averaging over two thousand mph.

      I remember that flight. I lived in the San Fernando valley, and the jet made a loop over the Pacific so that it was already at speed when it swept across LA, leaving a magnificent boom in its wake.

  4. I’m familiar with the Black Mountain supersonic corridor near Edwards AFB. This is in the middle of nowhere near ‘BF’, Egypt! It’s in the massive R-2508 restricted airspace complex.
    To use a popular term, this is a “nothingburger.” USAF jets do it all the time; the only diff is this is an experimental civil airplane under FAA perusal. I likewise am puzzled by how a scale model of the real deal is gonna provide meaningful data that super computers and wind tunnels couldn’t accomplish. I think they’re on a PR quest to draw in even MORE OPM.

    Saying that Boom is doing it with THEIR money is likewise ridiculous. It’s OPM! If it fails, the ‘other people’ will be sans their money.

    Finally, I fail to see why a civil supersonic airplane is even necessary. The greenies are howling all over the planet trying to force us into e-cars, banning gas stoves and all the rest of their loony ideas … meanwhile, Boom wants to build a highly inefficient seat-mile airplane. OH! I get it … supersonic jets for me and Cessna 172’s for thee. John Kerry must want one?

    • It’s doomed because no one wants to pay a premium price on the first leg of a flight just to sit in a terminal for 4-5 hours because the connecting flight out of Atlanta was delayed. Honestly, the whole airline experience from door to door is so bad that I never fly commercial in the USA.

    • “ Saying that Boom is doing it with THEIR money is likewise ridiculous.”

      Those “other people” are voluntary shareholders of the company. As part owners of the company, they aren’t “others”.

    • You’re right. It’s a fanciful idea as a viable endeavour at best. Some might call it a fool’s errand but who knows? Beechcraft discovered that scaling up a “Starship” didn’t work out quite as expected. I think they bought them all back and scuttled them. Thinking of dollars and cents I really wonder if this will “get off the ground.”