Boom Rolls Out XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator


Boom Supersonic officially unveiled its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator in a livestreamed virtual rollout event on Wednesday. Designed to demonstrate key technologies for Boom’s planned Overture supersonic commercial airliner, the XB-1 features a delta wing design, carbon composite airframe and forward vision system using a high-resolution video camera and cockpit display. The 71-foot-long aircraft is powered by three General Electric J85-15 engines.

“Boom continues to make progress towards our founding mission—making the world dramatically more accessible,” said Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl. “XB-1 is an important milestone towards the development of our commercial airliner, Overture, making sustainable supersonic flight mainstream and fostering human connection.”

According to Boom, the XB-1, which is expected to fly for the first time in 2021, will “undergo a 100% carbon-neutral flight test program.” The company plans to break ground on its Overture production facility in 2022 with the official rollout of the model slated for 2025. Boom was founded in 2014.

Video: Boom Supersonic
Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. I’m pretty sure that J85 engines and Mach 1 flight, and SST’s all have all been tested over the last 40+ years.

  2. All poignant comments thus far …

    The X-59 QueSST “Low Boom Demonstrator” aircraft contract worth $250M from NASA was awarded to Lockheed’s Skunk Works in Palmdale, CA in 2018 (the only bidder). The airplane is scheduled for delivery in 2021 with first flights in 2022. Ahead of first flight, an F/A-18 was scheduled to begin shock wave perceived level testing by the general population in the vicinity of Galveston, TX to determine baseline levels. Beginning in 2022 through 2025, flight testing of the X-59 are scheduled over various U.S. cities to determine community responses to the shock wave levels produced so that recommendations for supersonic flight standards can be determined by 2025. NASA did a forum on the thing at Airventure 2018.

    Circa 2003, DARPA and NASA funded the most extensive supersonic shock wave testing to date of a highly modified F-5E aircraft to determine if careful re-shaping of the fuselage could reduce the sonic boom levels produced by supersonic flight. That aircraft was called the SSBD — Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstrator. Extensive shock level testing over 1,300 tests were performed by NASA Dryden over the Mojave desert near Edwards AFB. I question why the Government is funding still more sonic boom testing using the X-59 but — OK — a standard for sonic boom levels over the U.S. needs to be established because they don’t currently exist. At Airventure 2018, I challenged the X-59 project pilot over why the Government is in the business of doing still more research; I never got a good answer to assuage me. I guess those NASA test pilots didn’t have anything else constructive to do? (BTW: You can see the SSBD at the Valiant Air Command Museum in Titusville if you’re interested and nearby).

    Meanwhile, over at Boom Supersonic — a Company no one has ever heard of — they’ve produced a slick video and are claiming they will be flying the XB-1 Demonstrator by the same year … 2021. Fine and dandy but they’re also claiming that their subsequent commercial airliner named Overture will be “making the world dramatically more accessible and will foster human connection.” To make THAT all better, they’re claiming that the flight test program will be, “100% carbon neutral.” What the hell does all of that mean? No trees will be harmed by the flight testing of the XB-1 Demonstrator? What absolute bunk.

    Is there something in Jet-A fumes that causes people in aviation to come up with all of this mumbo jumbo? The only thing positive I’ll say about Boom is that — hopefully — they’re playing with non-Government money. I wish them good luck BUT … I won’t be holding my breath waiting for substantive results while they pour their bucks down that rat hole. Now then, if the thing ran on D cells or unobtanium or used McD’s frying oil … maybe. Aviation is suffering terribly from Covid-19 issues yet these people are wanting to wisk heavy hitters around at Mach 1.5 levels … why?

    At a time when everyone is running amok worrying about the impact of greenhouse gases on the planet, these people are wanting to travel supersonically at very high altitudes (sic). If you don’t like contrails now, wait til this thing flies! IMHO, P.T Barnum was right …

    • I was wondering the same thing about the carbon neutral comment. I guess they will be flying on that liquid hydrogen that Airbus is making.

      • Same here. I flew the J-85 engines (Civilian CJ-610’s) on an old Learjet. Gas-guzzling powerhouses, three of them would make a school bus go supersonic. But eco-friendly? Not sure how that would work.

      • Making enviro-friendly claims early is a smart move, given how noisy the anti-SST greenies tend to be; they’re getting out ahead of that.

  3. I’ll give ’em this, that mock-up looks “slicker’n deer guts on the doorstep” as Baxter Black once said. Now if they can just reinvent the Concord using recycled political ads, how can they lose

    • Not a mockup, it’s the full flight article. Been watching the Boom updates for a couple of years now.

  4. An interesting video. Lots of channeling of Jim Bede.
    I wish this crew well in their endeavors.
    They already praised their own CFD and wind tunnel analyses. So, why After 50 minutes + of opportunity, did the video never make it clear to me why they’re building a one-off, throwaway scale model of a wannabe civil airliner? It leaves me thinking that they are very concerned about what they fear that they don’t know. Nothing wrong with that, but (for me) it fails to inspire a great deal of confidence.

    But enough of technology. I consider that the underlying proposition – that halving travel intervals will prompt the population of the world to embark on 8-hour trips – when they almost never would consider 16-hour ones – to be preposterous, on its face. Is 8 hours really a show-stopper that prevents visits to grampa in Asia? Really? Disney World is a 2-1/2 hour trip from home. Would I really never take the grandkids there, if it were five hours? Preposterous.

    “Anywhere on the planet, in four hours or less, for a hundred bucks.” Hmmnnn… 12,000 miles in four hours requires an average speed of 3,000 mph. That’s Mach 4-to-5 territory, guys.

    As I said, I wish them well.

    • Funny you mentioned Jim Bede, Yars. I was gonna bring him up in my diatribe but decided not to since he has departed the planet for points unknown. That said, he was a FAR better marketer than producer of his ideas. I even know an airport where a BD-5 is used as a wind sock …

      Now if that jet pack ambulance guy could just figure a way to go supersonic, THEN maybe the idea would have merit? Perhaps we should start work on a matter transportation device. Whaddya tink?

      • I think that “Crash” is the only even worse name that they could have chosen for their supersonic endeavor.
        “Boom. Turning neighbors into friends.”

    • The missile knows where it is because it knows where it isn’t. By subtracting where it is from where it isn’t … or where it isn’t from where it is — whichever is greater — the missile develops an error signal.

  5. I am not the least bit skeptical about the technical feasibility of what BOOM is attempting to do, but I seriously question the financial feasibility of their endeavor. The Concord failed not because one of them crashed at a very inopportune time, but it lost megabucks (megapounds/megafrancs/megaeuros?). The crash made it an opportune time to scrub the program without losing face.

    • In earlier days it did, but both operators turned it into a good money maker long before the accident. Not bad for a Gen-1 SST, given what it had to fly through (oil price shocks, enviro-mania, etc).