Sir Richard Branson wants to bring back supersonic travel.

Thirteen years since Concorde ended operations, the Virgin tycoon has revealed the prototype design for a new generation of supersonic business jets developed by the Branson-backed startup company Boom, based in Denver.

The firm claims its planes will allow “affordable” journeys from London to New York in just three-and-a-half hours for approximately $5,000 (£4,000) return, the same as current business class tickets.

But there’s still a question over whether Boom can overcome the problems that hindered Concorde. Another supersonic project in the US may already have the edge over Branson’s preferred design. And the success of both projects – and the future of supersonic flight in general – may ultimately depend on the decisions of President-elect Donald Trump.

Boom’s XB-1 will be more efficient than Concorde thanks to lighter, cheaper composite materials and advances in aerodynamics and jet engines. This will be helped by carrying 40 passengers per flight as opposed to Concorde’s 100, despite its ticket price. But ultimately, Boom doesn’t appear to do enough to address one of the key reasons Concorde failed. More info

By Neil Ashton  www.independent.co.uk

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