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Boom Supersonic’s XB-1 Demonstrator Flies For The First Time

Boom XB 1 Maiden Flight 1
XB-1 takes off for the first flight. (Photo: Boom Supersonic)

The XB-1 demonstrator provides the foundation for Boom’s supersonic airliner Overture.

The XB-1 supersonic aircraft demonstrator of Boom Supersonic flew for the first time on March 2022, 2024, from the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California. XB-1, according to the company, is the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet and leverages state-of-the-art technologies to enable efficient supersonic flight including carbon fiber composites, advanced avionics, digitally-optimized aerodynamics, and an advanced supersonic propulsion system.

“Today, XB-1 took flight in the same hallowed airspace where the Bell X-1 first broke the sound barrier in 1947,” said Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic. “I’ve been looking forward to this flight since founding Boom in 2014, and it marks the most significant milestone yet on our path to bring supersonic travel to passengers worldwide.”

The aircraft was flown by Chief Test Pilot Bill “Doc” Shoemaker, while Test Pilot Tristan “Geppetto” Brandenburg flew the T-38 chase aircraft which monitored XB-1 in the air, observing how the aircraft was handling and verifying its flight data and airworthiness. Both pilots maintain flight proficiency in T-38 and F-5 aircraft, which they use to develop chase procedures and practice flight test techniques that  will be used in XB-1, but they have also flown the F-104 as both share many flight characteristics.

“Everyone on the XB-1 team should be incredibly proud of this achievement,” said Shoemaker. “It has been a privilege to share this journey with so many dedicated and talented professionals. The experience we have gained in reaching this milestone will be invaluable to Boom’s revival of supersonic travel.”

According to Boom Supersonic’s press statement, XB-1 met all of its test objectives, including safely and successfully achieving an altitude of 7,120 feet and speeds up to 238 knots (273 mph). While XB-1 was in the air, the team performed an initial assessment of the aircraft’s handling qualities, including airspeed checks with the T-38 chase aircraft, and assessing the aircraft’s stability in the landing attitude (at a high angle of attack).

The return of civilian airliners

Two decades after Concorde’s retirement, the first flight of XB-1 marks the return of a civil supersonic aircraft to the skies and paves the way for the revival of mainstream supersonic travel. The aircraft, an all-composite, three-engine, delta-wing, single seat supersonic testbed, rolled out of factory in 2020 and was initially expected to fly in 2021.

Now that XB-1 has successfully completed its first flight, the team will systematically expand the flight envelope to confirm its performance and handling qualities through and beyond Mach 1. When XB-1 is ready for its first supersonic flight, Test Pilot Tristan “Geppetto” Brandenberg will be at the controls. Meanwhile, the company says Overture continues to advance toward production, with a growing global network of Tier 1 suppliers and an order book including 130 orders and pre-orders from American Airlines, United Airlines, and Japan Airlines.

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Xb-1 in flight over the Mojave Desert. (Photo: Boom Supersonic)

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Xb-1 in flight over the Mojave Desert. (Photo: Boom Supersonic)

Overture will carry 64-80 passengers at Mach 1.7 and is designed to run on up to 100% sustainable aviation fuel, as Boom aims to make it 100% carbon neutral. The company also specified that the aircraft will fly at full speed over water, doubling the cruise speed of current airliners, while over land it will be restricted to a speed only 20% higher.

Overture will be long 201 ft (about 61 m), all-composite, propelled by four engines, with a max range of 4,250 nm. The engine, also being developed by Boom, is called Symphony and is a turbofan capable of providing 35,000 lb of thrust, produced also with the help of additive manufacturing. Boom says the factory where Overture will be produced is expected to be ready this year.

About Stefano D’Urso
Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.

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