Tell all your friends, "Gotta supersonic jet!"
Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire businessman and founder of Virgin Group, has an eye toward the future of flight – but the future, to him, involves revisiting the past.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday, Feb. 13, Branson expressed his hope that supersonic travel will make a comeback in the next few years, allowing people to travel “around the world in next to no time.”
“And hopefully, in a relatively environmentally friendly way,” he added.
From 1969-2003, the Concorde – a supersonic passenger airliner – was available for commercial flights via Air France and British Airways. Both airlines retired the Concorde once costs outpaced profits, announcing their intention on to do so on April 10, 2003. The very next day, Branson expressed interest in buying the supersonic jetliners, but the deal never went through.
Fast forward to present day: Branson's Virgin Galactic has partnered with Denver-based startup Boom Technology Inc. to work on jets that could get passengers from New York to London in 3.5 hours – 2.6 times faster than current airplanes and twice the speed of sound.
According to Boom Supersonic’s website, “From 1903 to 1976, the speed of passenger aviation increased relentlessly from 7 mph to Mach 2.0. Then something broke. Over the last 40 years, not only have we failed to generate further speed increases, we’ve lost supersonic capability.”
So, they took matters into their own hands and “built a driven, world-class team to produce the world’s first commercially viable supersonic aircraft.” Their FAQ says one of their models is scheduled to fly in 2018 with passenger flights set to start taking off in the early 2020s.
Branson, whose net worth is reported to be $5.1 billion, released a statement on behalf of Virgin Galactic that expressed dedication to and excitement for the supersonic project, which will offer consumers a more affordable, quieter, and comfortable experience than that of the Concorde.
“This is the first step on the journey to build the world’s first privately developed supersonic jet and fastest civil aircraft ever. There is no doubt that supersonic travel will take a lot of hard work, partners, and investment. This is the kind of innovation that will change the future of transportation and the future of how we do business,” Branson wrote.
With the advancement of air travel on Branson's mind, you might be zipping between continents faster than someone will hear you say "gotta supersonic jet!" – if you have the $5,000 for a ticket, that is.