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JAL has become the second airline to back the Boom supersonic jet startup, with a US$10 million investment and the option to buy as many as 20 of the 'next-gen Concorde' aircraft.
Boom plans to build a commercial supersonic jet with 45 to 55 all-business class seats that cruises at Mach 2.2 (1,451 miles per hour), or capable of whisking passengers between New York and London in about three hours.
The aircraft, which aims for an entry into service in mid-2020s, will have a range of 8,334 kilometers, roughly the distance between Beijing and London.
Boom says a flight from San Francisco to Tokyo could be completed in five and a half hours, and has already struck a deal with The Spaceship Co., the manufacturing division of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, to use that company’s engineering, design, and flight-test support services.
Japan Airlines will provide its knowledge and experience as an airline to support Boom in developing the aircraft, the company said.
Boom Technology had commitments for 75 planes and customers have paid significant deposits, CEO Blake Scholl said at the Paris Air Show in June. Orders were spread across five airlines.
"The future needs friends," Scholl said on Twitter ahead of the announcement. "Pioneers who stick their necks out, take a stand, support the new, the half-born, while uncertainty remains and the risk of failure is still quite real."
On the Concorde, deep-pocketed passengers could fly the Atlantic at twice the speed of sound from 1976 to 2003. After costs and noise complaints killed off that supersonic jet, NASA, Lockheed Martin, General Electric and a number of startups including Boom saw new designs and technology that could make supersonic flight a commercial reality.
Boom in November hired Bill James, a former Airbus executive who led wing-design on the A380 superjumbo, as its vice president of production operations. The company was in the process of selecting a site for a production facility, and was in talks with about 20 airlines to sell the plane.
Boom’s demonstration aircraft passed a preliminary design review in May, with the demo plane’s first flights scheduled for late next year.