Already nicknamed the ‘Baby Boom’ the planned introduction of a new supersonic jet could yet prove another wonderful opportunity for Barbados and the Caribbean.
Many of us will recall the golden days of British Airways delta wing Concorde arriving early morning into Grantley Adams having left Heathrow, if you allowed for the time zone difference, moments before. One day it presented a wonderful opportunity to photograph an amazing three Concorde’s on the tarmac at the same time, albeit one was an Air France aircraft, simply refuelling enroute to Habana, Cuba.
The new aircraft XB-1 will carry only 45 passengers at a speed of Mach 2.2 (1, 451 miles per hour) or around 10 per cent faster than Concorde was able to fly. The mere fact that Sir Richard Branson is one of the main supporters of this project, a partnership between his offshoot, The Spaceship Company and Boom Technologies gives at least in my mind, a greater possibility of it becoming a reality. Sir Richard has been a great supporter of the region over many years and to give his current Virgin Atlantic passengers the option of a supersonic alternative seems to make absolute sense to me.
The idea behind the involvement of the American based partner was simply put by its Chief Executive Officer and founder, Blake Scholl, who said he ‘was motivated to build a supersonic jet to make it easier to travel greater distances. I’ve got little kids and their Grandpa lives in Hong Kong, which is 18 hours away. They see him once a year and they’ll never be close. It’s because we’re basically flying in the same airplanes we were using when my grandparents were little’.
Many in the aviation world would be quick to contradict that, but in terms of flying speed Mr.Scholl is not too far removed from the truth. Sir Richard’s Spaceship Company will provide a host of other operational services to Boom Technology and in exchange, Virgin will have the option to purchase the first 10 jets.
Boom isn’t of course the only group trying to bring back supersonic travel. A company called Concorde Club says it has enough money to restore a Concorde for use in air shows and for private charters with plans to resume flights sometime in 2019.
European Airbus has filed a patent for its own supersonic jet that can supposedly fly at four times the speed of sound, and Boston based Spike Aerospace is looking to build a US$80 million supersonic plane.
With a distance of 4,200 miles from London’s Heathrow or Gatwick airport to Barbados and largely flying over water without the population concerns over sonic wave noise, we have to be a natural and logical choice above many destinations.
At 1,451 miles per hour, a flying travel time of just three hours must be of enormous appeal to a large number of well heeled British and European visitors and second home owners.
The first XB-1 prototype is expected to take flight late 2017 and be in service for passengers by 2020, so not that far away.
What can ‘we’ do, to help make this a little closer to becoming a reality?