Ask a harried air traveller about the basics of modern flight and you’ll probably elicit surprise when they discover commercial aircraft fly only as fast as they did in the 1950s. Given the range of aerospace advances in the past 50 years, plus the technological leaps in almost every other area of life, it seems reasonable to ask: why can’t we fly faster? That’s the question driving a start-up called Boom Technology, which says it’s time to bring supersonic jet travel into the mainstream — in a modern way. The company is pursuing speed with an audacious idea: a 45-seat aircraft that cruises at Mach 2.2 (2,335km/h), faster than the defunct Concorde and certainly faster than the standard 885km/h, with fares no more expensive than a business-class round trip. Yet long before travellers can marvel at a quick hop across the Atlantic, Boom will need to convince airlines not only of the jet’s disruptive ability, but its cost-effectiveness. It must earn a solid profit — no middling returns ...

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