Despite being one of the most remarkable feats of technology the world of aviation has ever seen, the Concorde eventually proved to be a thorn in the side for both people and the airlines themselves.
Nearly 40 years after the last Concorde was made, a supersonic aircraft is now being developed for commercial operations by American start-up Boom Technology Inc.
Supersonic, by definition, means faster than the speed of the sound. The Concorde could fly at a maximum speed of Mach 2.04 (2.04 times the speed of sound) but Boom's new supersonic aircraft is expected to be slightly faster at around Mach 2.2.
However, cool as that may sound, supersonic aircraft have not been used since the last Concorde flew in 2003. Despite being one of the most remarkable feats of technology the world of aviation has ever seen, the Concorde eventually proved to be a thorn in the side for both people and the airlines themselves.
Any airline with a Concorde in its fleet would spend 18 hours of maintenance on the aircraft for every hour it was in flight, the cost of which would often overrun ticket revenue. The maintenance costed even more when the aircraft wasn't flying.
Apart from being expensive to maintain for the airline, the Concorde wasn't easy on the pocket for fliers either. Each flight across the Atlantic would put the passenger back by USD 10,000, for which he or she would not even have enough legroom, let alone other costlier amenities.
The passenger was only paying to get to the destination in three and a half hours, the time it took for the Concorde to complete a trans-Atlantic trip, which was less than half the time a subsonic commercial jetliner would take today.
In addition to all this, the revolutionary supersonic jet received a lot of criticism for the noise and air pollution it was causing. Window panes of buildings surrounding the airport would often shatter from the sound because the Concorde would hit supersonic mode even before it took off. All in all, it wasn't the best of times for supersonic jets.
Is it going to be the same for Boom?
Boom Technologies CEO Blake Scholl is confident of the project. Reports say that unlike the Concorde, Boom's supersonic flights will have a turbofan engine, similar to the subsonic engines in flights today, thereby minimising noise at the time of take-off.
That is probably one of the major reasons for why the California-based startup can actually succeed in its mission of bringing back these jets in the market for commercial purposes.
The fare is also expected to be a quarter of the Concorde's, which charged USD 20,000 for a round trip, and the aircraft will be able to carry 55 flyers. The amenities offered on the flight will be akin to those received by business class flyers in commercial airlines.
The US government will likely give a green signal to commercial supersonic flights soon. Boom has managed to rope in Virgin to take an option in the first ten planes and Virgin Galactic, also a part of the Virgin Group, will assist in both manufacturing and testing through its subsidiary The Spaceship Company.
Such is the trust in Boom's technology that five airlines have in all bought 76 of these planes already and the company is in talks with 20 more airlines. The aircraft will have its first test flight in Nevada next year and is expected to debut in markets by 2023.Looking at it all, it kind of makes you wonder what took the world so long to revisit the idea of commercial supersonic jets. For all its flaws, the Concorde was, in no uncertain terms, a technical success. Let's hope Boom manages to shrug all that baggage off and please us with some jaw-dropping technology.