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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 January 2019

Supersonic jet maker Boom finds an audience in Dubai

Boom was invited to town by the Dubai Future Accelerators, which has been closely linked with HyperLoop One and Tesla arriving on our shores.
Blake Scholl present Boom’s plans in Dubai on Tuesday evening. Anna Nielsen for The National
Blake Scholl present Boom’s plans in Dubai on Tuesday evening. Anna Nielsen for The National

Abu Dhabi to Sydney in eight hours sounds far fetched but last night it sounded feasible, and perhaps even probable.

Boom, a company based in Denver in the United States, pitched its message at the Dubai Future Foundation on Tuesday evening and Dubai was more than willing to listen.

An audience of airplane geeks listened to 36-year-old Blake Scholl, a pilot and former Amazon executive, pitch the future of supersonic travel. Boom plans to build a 55 seat supersonic jet that will fly at Mach 2.2, or 2,335 kph, using off-the-shelf technology, and sell its seats for the normal price of business class travel. The prototype “Baby Boom” is being built now to be ready for flight in 2018.

“Supersonic technology is 50 years old,” said Mr Scholl, Boom’s founder and chief executive. He said Concorde was designed with a slide rule and paper as part of a Cold War economics in the 1960s. “Today’s advancements in both research and development technology and aviation knowledge mean the economics are now more than viable. Concorde cost $20,000 a seat, that made it unaffordable to most. Our seats will be at the same price as a normal business class or first class seat and you can fly from Dubai to London in four and a half hours. We see the first commercial flight in 2023.”

The viability of Boom was underlined with Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, one of the audience that joined the conversation about how likely this form of aviation is to come to be. Boom formed in 2014 and has raised US$41 million from venture capitalists so far. It says it has also secured reservations for its first 25 aircraft at $200 million a plane. Virgin, Richard Branson’s airline, has earmarked 10, and is the only brand to publicly back the initiative. The other 15 buyers are a fiercely guarded secret.

So what was Boom doing in Dubai? Boom was invited by the Dubai Future Accelerators, an initiative that has been closely linked with HyperLoop One and Tesla arriving on our shores. Mr Scholl shadow danced around questions over any plans with Etihad, Emirates or Qatar Airways but is open to meetings with all interested parties.

“Dubai Future Accelerators and Dubai Future Foundation is about making conversations happen with companies that have a vision, “ said Tom Hudson, a consultant who works closely with the groups. “We want to bring the most visionary companies on the planet to Dubai and learn what is possible and what may be the next reality.”

ascott@thenational.ae

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Updated: April 26, 2017 04:00 AM

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