Japan Airlines Looks to Bring Back Supersonic Flights

(Photo by Pefostudio/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images) Photo by Pefostudio/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Japan Airlines (JAL) has announced a new partnership aimed at bringing back supersonic air travel.

The airline has announced a strategic partnership with Boom Supersonic, which says it is developing a next-generation supersonic aircraft capable of flying at Mach 2.2. That speed would cut average flight times in half, Boom said. JAL said that the agreement would allow it to provide its knowledge and experience as an airline to support Boom in the new aircraft’s development.

As part of the agreement, JAL invested $10 million in Boom, and is collaborating with the company to refine the aircraft’s design. JAL can also purchase up to 20 Boom aircraft through a pre-order arrangement.

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The move is the latest attempt to bring back supersonic travel since the most famous supersonic passenger jet, the Concorde, ceased operations in 2003. For example, Spike Aerospace announced back in 2014 that it was attempting to develop a windowless, 12-18 seat private jet that could fly between Mach 1.6 and 1.8. The company says it successfully flew a subsonic, unmanned SX-1.2 Demonstrator for the first time this October, with an eye to developing a series of demonstrators leading up to the launch of the full-size S-512 Supersonic Jet in 2023.

Just this past August, Qantas announced it was investigating a major technology leap forward of its own. While it’s not supersonic flight, the airline said it has challenged Airbus and Boeing to give their next-generation aircraft, the A350ULR and 777X, the range to fly nonstop flights from Sydney to New York and London – a move that would cut travel times between three and four hours and connect major source markets with Australia, nonstop.

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