The Green Concorde? Watch XB-1 Make Its Trailblazing First Flight In California

After nailing its first flight, the XB-1 experimental aircraft is hoping to usher in a new era of civil supersonic air travel over 20 years after Concorde was forced into retirement.

Designed and made by Boom Supersonic, XB-1 completed its maiden flight at Mojave Air & Space Port in California on Friday March 22.

At an altitude of 2,100 meters (7,120 feet), the aircraft achieved speeds up to 439 kilometers (273 miles) per hour. While that is still way off the speed of sound – just over 1,234 kilometers (767 miles) per hour – the test flight met all its test objectives, including safety and assessment of the aircraft’s handling. 

“Today, XB-1 took flight in the same hallowed airspace where the Bell X-1 first broke the sound barrier in 1947,” Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic, said in a statement

“I’ve been looking forward to this flight since founding Boom in 2014, and it marks the most significant milestone yet on our path to bring supersonic travel to passengers worldwide,” continued Scholl. 


The XB-1 program is being used to inform the design and development of Overture, Boom’s sustainable supersonic airliner. There are high hopes behind this plane already. United Airlines has said it wants to purchase up to 50 Boom Overture supersonic jets for commercial use by 2029.

The Overture aircraft is still in its early development phase, but it eventually aims to be the Concorde of the 21st century; a commercial supersonic passenger plane that’s much more energy efficient (and slightly greener) than its engineering predecessors. 

Concorde made its first commercial passenger flight in January 1976 with two simultaneous journeys: one from London to Bahrain in the Persian Gulf and another from Paris to Rio de Janeiro via West Africa. With cruising speeds of up to 2,154 kilometers (1,338 miles) per hour, the revolutionary plane slashed travel times in half and seemed to be the future of commercial airlines. 

An artist’s impression of Boom Supersonic’s Overture aircraft in flight.
Image credit: Boom Supersonic

However, after nearly three decades, the dream fell flat. Supersonic travel was becoming increasingly expensive and demand for seats on the planes slumped. Another nail in the coffin was the fatal Air France Flight 4590 crash in 2000, which killed 113 people. Concorde’s last commercial flight was from New York to London on October 24, 2003.

Over two decades later, civil supersonic air travel is yet to make a comeback – but Boom Supersonic believes they can change that. 

“I’ve been waiting over 20 years for an environmentally friendly successor to Concorde and XB-1’s first flight is a major landmark towards my dreams being realized. When I last flew Concorde in 2003 I knew that this day would come. The first flight of the XB-1 supersonic demonstrator is a significant achievement toward making sustainable supersonic flight a reality, aboard Overture – my #1 choice as the successor to Concorde,” said Captain Mike Bannister, former Chief Concorde Pilot for British Airways.

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