Sir Richard Branson has unveiled a prototype for a supersonic passenger airliner which its designers claim will be able to fly passengers from London to New York in three-and-a-half hours for an ‘affordable’ $US 5,000 ($A 6,700) return ticket.
Nicknamed the ‘Baby Boom‘, the XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator, which looks likes a mini Concorde, is expected to have its first test flight next year in Southern California.
The venture is a joint project between Sir Richard’s Virgin Galactic and Denver based US firm Boom Technology.
‘I have long been passionate about aerospace innovation and the development of high-speed commercial flights,’ said the billionaire Virgin Group founder.
‘As an innovator in the space, Virgin Galactic’s decision to work with Boom was an easy one.
‘We’re excited to have an option on Boom’s first 10 air frames.
‘Through Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing arm, the Spaceship Company, we will provide engineering and manufacturing services, along with flight test support and operations as part of our shared ambitions.’
Cruising at a speed of 1,451 mph, the 40 seater aircraft is said to be 10% faster than Concorde and 2.6 times faster than current jetliners.
Its interior features a single window seat on each side of the aisle with a personal overhead luggage compartment.
The jet has been created by top aviation experts with experience of working for SpaceX, Boeing and NASA.
US astronaut Scott Kelly’s twin Mark Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut, is among the project’s team of advisers.
‘Sixty years after the dawn of the jet age, we’re still flying at 1960s speeds,’ said Blake Scholl, the founder and CEO of Boom Technology.
‘Concorde’s designers didn’t have the technology for affordable supersonic travel, but now we do.’