(CNN)A Colorado startup wants to build supersonic passenger planes faster than Concorde but with fares a quarter of the price — and Virgin Galactic has just got on board.
The Boom airplane would travel at Mach 2.2 — more than twice the speed of sound and 2.6 times faster than any other airliner — and fly from New York to London in 3.4 hours.
That’s San Francisco to Tokyo in 4.7 hours or Los Angeles to Sydney in six.
That transatlantic trip cuts the standard seven-hour journey by more than half.
With a round-trip price tag of $5,000 it’s not exactly “affordable” travel, but for the world’s business elite, it’s a steal.
It’s certainly piqued British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s interest: On Wednesday his Virgin Group optioned 10 planes.
The deal, if it’s followed through, could be worth a reported $2 billion.
Boom has also optioned 15 additional planes to an unnamed European carrier, the firm told TechCrunch, racking up a potential income of $5 billion.
Despite the big figures, the reality of a supersonic passenger jet remains small.
Denver-based Boom is still working on a third-scale prototype that isn’t slated to fly until 2017.
CEO and founder Blake Scholl recently told Fortune he couldn’t say when full-size planes would be ready for commercial flights.
So right now it’s just one of many new supersonic and hypersonic plane concepts promising shorter and shorter flight times, with none yet to see a runway.
A Virgin Group spokeswoman confirmed to the Guardian that Virgin Galactic’s space division, The Space Company, “will provide engineering, design and manufacturing services, flight tests and operations,”
“Concorde was just too expensive to fly, and to fill 100 seats at $20,000 each,” Scholl told the Guardian.
“You have to bring the ticket price down, and make the aeroplane the right size so you can fill the seats.”