According to Fortune Magazine, a startup called Boom Supersonic based in Colorado has acquired $33 million to start work on the one-third scale prototype of a Supersonic Airliner. The airliner, if it becomes a reality, would travel between New York and London in three hours and 15 minutes, roughly half the current flight time. Tickets for the new service will cost $2,500 one way. The funding pays for the prototype and the flight tests that are scheduled to begin in a year.

The dream of supersonic airline flight has been around for decades.

In the late 1960s, three supersonic airliner development projects existed, an American one, a Soviet version, and the Anglo-French Concorde. The American SST was canceled by Congress and the Soviet supersonic transport, the TU-144, flew only 100 or so passenger and cargo flights before retiring in 1983. The Concorde saw extensive service as a luxury airliner for wealthy passengers willing to pay a premium for the shortened transatlantic flight times. But the Concorde, caught in the general post 9/11 airline downturn and rising maintenance costs, was retired from service in 2003.

After over 25 years of service, the Concorde, state of the art for its time, had become obsolete by its retirement with no incentive to perform upgrades.

Boom Supersonic believes that technological advancements will allow it to produce a supersonic airliner that can be operated in an economical fashion. The Concorde was always expensive to run and was a fuel hog.

The market might exist for supersonic business travel, with people who find their time to be at a premium and might be willing to pay for the privilege to go to that important meeting across the pond sooner rather than later.

On the other hand, modern laptop computers allow people to get work done while in the air, an option that did not exist when the Concorde was in its prime. Speed, therefore, may not be as important to anyone except the very wealthy. Does a number of people willing to pay $5,000 to go round trip between New York and London constitute a big enough market to justify a new civilian SST? Boom Supersonic and its backers are betting that there is.

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