JAL invests $10 mil in supersonic jet project

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Boom, the U.S. aerospace company hoping to build a "baby" Concorde, has come a step closer to bringing back supersonic flight for commercial passengers after securing a major investment from Japan Airlines.

Japan Air, also known as JAL, will provide its knowledge and experience as an airline to support Boom in developing the aircraft, the company said.

Blake Scholl, founder of Boom, called the agreement an "historic" milestone not just for the company, but for supersonic passenger flight, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Boom, whose suppliers include General Electric Co, Honeywell International Inc and Netherlands-based TenCate Advanced Composites, has reportedly received 76 pre-orders from airlines, excluding the option of up to 20 aircraft from Japan Airlines.

A JAL 777 featuring the older livery design
A JAL 777 featuring the older livery design

If successful, the aircraft could take passengers from London to NY in just over three hours and from Sydney to Los Angeles in under seven hours. The Concorde, flown by British Airways and Air France at twice the speed of sound, retired in 2003 after nearly three decades in service as customers abandoned the jets amid declining economies and maintenance costs to keep them flying soared.

Boom's aircraft is expected to produce a sonic boom that would be at least 30 times quieter than Concorde's, which was dogged by high operating costs and fuel consumption and low capacity utilization. Airlines who get in line early for all-new jets can benefit from intimate involvement in the design process, giving their wish list for features they think will please passengers, pilots, flight attendants and maintenance crews.

"Through this partnership, we hope to contribute to the future of supersonic travel with the intent of providing more "time" to our valued passengers while emphasizing flight safety", JAL president Yoshiharu Ueki said.

Enter Boom Supersonic, a start-up-cum-development project that hopes to make supersonic travel all of the above. Supersonic flight is banned over Europe and the United States. Virgin Group, a part owner of Virgin Atlantic, holds options for 10 aircraft. A flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong could be cut from roughly five hours to around two hours, offering airlines a supersonic shuttle between two of the world's biggest financial centers.

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