London - The sky clearly isn’t the limit for Sir Richard Branson.
Not content with plans to launch passenger rockets into space, the Virgin tycoon has now unveiled a prototype supersonic aeroplane that will be 100mph faster than Concorde.
The billionaire’s Spaceship Company has joined forces with US firm Boom to re-launch passenger flights breaking the sound barrier for the first time since Concorde’s demise in 2003.
Their 40-seat Boom jet is intended to be able to fly from London to New York in just three and a half hours – the same as Concorde. But unlike flights on Concorde, which cost passengers £5 400 (about R92 000) one way, the men behind the Boom claim it will be “available for everyone” at just £1 750. Returns should cost £4 000.
But first, the technology will be tested on the XB-1 prototype, nicknamed Baby Boom, which was unveiled yesterday in Denver, Colorado.
Sir Richard said: “I have long been passionate about the development of high-speed commercial flights.” The XB-1, a one-third scale version of the Boom, will take its first test next year, with the first commercial Boom flights in 2023.
The man behind Boom is Blake Scholl, a former Amazon executive and pilot. He said: “Sixty years after the dawn of the jet age, we’re still flying at 1960s speeds. Concorde’s designers didn’t have the technology for affordable supersonic travel, but now we do.”
The Boom could eventually fly on 500 routes, but will begin with London to New York, San Francisco to Tokyo and Los Angeles to Sydney.