Vyte Klisauskaite from Simple Flying – Reports
The XB-1 is a supersonic technology testbed for the forthcoming Overture passenger jet.
- Boom plans to start high-speed taxi tests for its XB-1 demonstrator in the upcoming weeks after delaying its first flight due to safety upgrades.
- Recent testing revealed three safety enhancements, including upgrades to landing gear, engine intakes, and dampers.
- The XB-1 demonstrator is now in its flight configuration, and Boom aims to conduct the first flight in early 2024 after completing final ground and high-speed taxi testing.
The supersonic aircraft manufacturer Boom has revealed plans to start the first high-speed taxi tests for its XB-1 demonstrator in the upcoming weeks, a significant step in its supersonic aircraft development.
In 2023, Boom Supersonic secured US FAA certification for test flights with its prototype XB-1. Following the certification, Boom planned to initiate the first flight of the XB-1 demonstrator the same year.
However, the schedule was delayed due to the implementation of three essential safety enhancements. When commenting on the missed goals, the plane maker emphasized that “no XB-1 milestone is more important than safety,” even if it means sacrificing the schedule. Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic, said:
“While we didn’t get to see XB-1 take flight this year, that historic moment is now imminent. We always knew building the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet would be challenging, and I remain proud of our progress towards supersonic flight.”
Boom added that recent testing of the XB-1 revealed three opportunities to enhance the demonstrator’s safety. The first involved upgrading XB-1’s landing gear for increased reliability, the second focused on optimizing the engine intakes for improved resistance to engine stall, and the third safety enhancement included adjusting XB-1’s dampers for improved stability and control.
First flight in early 2024
With all three upgrades completed, the XB-1 demonstrator is now in its flight configuration. Boom is currently resolving due diligence items from the Flight Readiness Review and progressing through the final ground testing campaign initiated in December, with 30% already complete. Successful completion will lead to clearance for high-speed taxi tests and the first flight.
Boom aims to conduct the first XB-1 flight in early 2024 without specifying the exact date. However, the initial high-speed taxi test will follow in the upcoming weeks, indicating that “early 2024” could mean the first flight will take place in February or March.
Boom’s plan includes 10-20 flights, covering the period from the first flight to the supersonic flight. The first flight is scheduled to take place at the Mojave Air & Space Port, described as “home to more than 50 first flights and other significant aviation events.” Bill “Doc” Shoemaker, Chief Test Pilot for Boom Supersonic, said:
“I’m looking forward to flying XB-1 here, building on the achievements of other talented engineers and pilots who inspire us every day to make supersonic travel mainstream.”
While some goals were not achieved, 2023 marked a year of significant growth in Boom Supersonic’s development capabilities for manufacturing Overture. This progress was facilitated by key partnerships, including those with Honeywell Aerospace for the flight deck and Latecoere for wiring Overture, among others.