Boom Supersonic Jet Technology Is On Its Path To Production
Technology for supersonic airplane startup Boom is well on its way. The startup completed its wind tunnel analysis, verifying its first two years of aerodynamic design work and setting the stage for constructing the airframe that will become the basis of it first flight-ready aircraft. We spoke to Boom co-founder Blake Scholl and CEO about the wind tunnel testing that had been completed, and asked why this was such a large step for the startup.
Scholl explained that this was a major turning point because it meant being able to move on to constructing large-scale hardware for analysis with human pilots. However, Scholl also told us that just a few years ago, this kind of technology milestone would have involved multiple wind tunnel tests through numerous physical model iterations over a drawn-out period of time.
Scholl stated, “It used to be you do all your development in wind tunnel. Every iteration would take six months, cost millions; you’d better be a big company. But today, you can do aerodynamic development in simulation, where each iteration takes 30 minutes and costs almost nothing, and so you can do it with a tiny team. And then when you think you’ve got it right, you go to the wind tunnel and you verify rather than develop there.” The adjustments in the cost of the advancement process are part of what is helping Boom reach its achievement of creating a Concorde-like supersonic passenger jet that can operate at costs comparable on the traveler’s end to business class travel on regular planes today.
Scholl’s target is not just to get supersonic flight down to business class prices. He envisions a time when they can bring costs down far enough that supersonic travel will be accessible to anyone who can fly today. Boom sees itself having a parallel trajectory with SpaceX technology or Tesla in terms of massively changing the economies of a transportation tech that at first seems out of reach, Scholl explained. “It’s the dividing line between development and being ready to build, so you do all of your testing and simulation initially, you think you have a design that looks like it’s going to go work, and then you go to the wind tunnel and you verify with real air and real flow that you’re seeing the results that you predicted in simulation and at that point then you’re ready to go forward and start constructing large pieces of the aircraft,” he stated. Scholl said that there was a “really awesome agreement” between the conclusions predicting in software simulation, and the results that bore out in actual wind tunnel testing, with a few areas for improvements the team will work on before heading to the construction phase.