Sir Richard Branson has unveiled the prototype of his supersonic passenger aircraft, and it's pretty snazzy.
The Virgin Group founder has teamed up with US startup Boom to build a new generation of supersonic jets which will deliver 3.5 hour flights from London to New York for an "affordable" $5,000 return. It will bring in transatlantic flight times not seen since the time of Concorde.
The XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator will have its first test flight late next year. Test flights will begin in southern California, and departures of the first commercial flights are on the cards from 2023.
"I have long been passionate about aerospace innovation and the development of high-speed commercial flights," said Branson. "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 airframes. 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."
Branson is teaming up with pilot and former Amazon exec Blake Scholl, who said his plan is likely to beat big names including Boeing to market, as his doesn't require any technology that would need approval from regulators.
If everything runs accordingly, Boom flights will launch 20 years after British Airways and Air France decommissioned Concorde. A fitting time.
And how will it succeed where Concorde didn't? Scholl's confident business for Boom, will, well boom, because developments in technology and lighter materials will mean tickets are considerably cheaper.