Richard Branson unveils supersonic plane prototype

Virgin Group founder has sights set on $5,000 flights between London and New York

Could the rebirth of supersonic passenger flights be just around the corner? Richard Branson has unveiled a new prototype aircraft promising flights between London and New York lasting just three-and-a-half hours.

The billionaire founder of the Virgin Group said his Spaceship company would work alongside Boom - a start-up based in Denver - to build the next generation of supersonic passenger jets. His aim is simple; to reintroduce transatlantic flights that would rival those of Concorde.

“I have long been passionate about aerospace innovation and the development of high-speed commercial flights,” Branson said. “As an innovator in the space, Virgin Galactic’s decision to work with Boom was an easy one."

"We’re excited to have an option on Boom’s first 10 airframes. Through Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing arm, the Spaceship Company, we will provide engineering and manufacturing services, along with flight test support and operations as part of our shared ambitions,” he continued.

Branson has chosen to partner up with Blake Scholl, a pilot and former executive at Amazon. Scholl has stated their plan enables Boom to beat other organisations like Boeing and Lockheed Martin to the market as it does not require any new technology being approved by regulators.

Test flights are scheduled to begin in Southern California in 2017 with plans to launch the first commercial departures in 2023. Boom are confident that they will succeed where the likes of Concorde have failed thanks to further advancements in technology and lighter materials meaning cheaper and more affordable ticket prices.

“Sixty years after the dawn of the jet age, we’re still flying at 1960s speeds,” Scholl, the founder and CEO of Boom, said. “Concorde’s designers didn’t have the technology for affordable supersonic travel, but now we do. Today, we’re proud to unveil our first aircraft as we look forward to our first flight late next year.”