Boom Technology, a startup company with its headquarters at Denver’s Centennial Airport, thinks it can do what BAC (later BAe and BAE Systems) and Sud Aviation (later Aérospatiale and Airbus) could not accomplish.
Its goal is to design, certificate, and manufacture a 40 seat, commercially viable and environmentally friendly supersonic airplane. While the SST flew at Mach 2.0, this super bird will reach Mach 2.2 (which is actually 2.6 times faster than existing airline flights). Commercially viable means that the operator can cover its capital and operating costs (which the Concorde never did on a real, fully allocated basis) and that the airline will not have to charge First Class fare (plus 20%) for this faster flight (BA and AF), but at existing Business Class rates.
An unrealistic pipe dream? The innovative concept has some degree of credibility since another company, Aerion, is using the same design parameters. The Boom website also makes the case that it has the technological talent needed in its core initial team.
The core seven Boom executives have started 6 companies, contributed to over 30 new airplanes, and taken multiple aircraft through FAA certification. The corporate resume includes pilots, engineers, and hands-on builders. Their design and flight test experience goes beyond the 2.2 Mach target all the way to Mach 3. The team of senior executives and Boom’s Advisory Board are really impressive.
The brand names behind these entrepreneurs are the sort of bona fides, which scrutinizing investment analysts will recognize:
The Founder and CEO is Blake Scholl, who built marketing automation at Amazon, along with another start-up which was acquired by Groupon. He’s also a certified pilot. Co-founder and Chief Engineer Joe Wilding is also a certified pilot, who has helped develop several aircraft including the Eclipse 500 private jet, and the Icon A5 light sport aircraft. Co-founder and CTO Josh Krall has a background in physics simulation.
Andy Berryann will be Boom’s Head of Propulsion; his wealth of practical experience comes from his work at Pratt & Whitney. The F-35 Lightning II, the F-22 Raptor, and the Geared Turbofan Engine assignments position him to select the as-of-yet unidentified powerplant.
One of the most troublesome challenges for a supersonic aircraft is NOISE and Principal Engineer of Aerodynamics Kendrick Waithe, who while at Gulfstream helped develop quiet boom and supersonic aerodynamic technologies, as well as fluid dynamic methods for the Gulfstream fleet.
Boom’s Head of Systems Engineering will be Michael Reid has worked on the Boeing 787 (autopilot) and flight dynamics for Virgin Galactic’s Space Ship Two.
Certification of any new aircraft involves both the Type (design) and Production (manufacturing). A great paper airplane is nothing unless it can be produced and the same plane is rolled out at reasonable costs and at the highest levels of safety. The man to accept this task is Head of Production Mike Jagemann was involved in the mechanical design of the Adam A500, A700, Grumman’s unmanned X-47A Pegasus, and production and assembly tooling for the Icon A5.
Their confidence in their ability to attain these lofty goals derives, they say, from new advances in aerodynamics, carbon fiber composites, engines, wind tunnels, and software. For example, their analyses show that the carbon composites, which Boom will use, are both cheaper and better resistant to high temperatures than Concorde’s aluminum skin. This material is lighter and less weight translates to higher speeds. The propulsion of the new advanced engines will contribute to greater efficiency (the SST consumed a big tank of fuel). The Boom team includes a lot of computer and modeling expertise and it is believed that the simulations will facilitate the certification.
That technology when fully applied to their airplane equates to an SST that can fly from London to New York in 3.6 hours at a cost of $5,000 for round trip. Those numbers have a level of certainty on a macro, up front basis. As the hard numbers on environmental and safety measures are demonstrated, the credibility of this project will increase or decrease and maybe even fluctuate.