The last couple of years have been quite challenging for companies working hard to bring back supersonic civilian air travel, especially after massive disruptions were caused by the pandemic. Ironically, 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the final flight of Concorde, and the return of supersonic air travel seems quite uncertain. It all started in 2021 when US supersonic business jet developer Aerion went bust amid financial troubles. Further panic was caused when Boom Supersonic, a major player in the segment, announced last year that its tie-up with Rolls-Royce had collapsed. However, there’s one company that still is confident that it’ll play a pivotal role in reintroducing supersonic flights in civil aviation. We are talking about Massachusetts-based Spike Aerospace which is progressing with its plans to build a supersonic business jet called the S-512. The company even recently started accepting reservations for its jets through its official website.
Spike Aerospace originally announced the project to develop the S-512 supersonic business jet way back in 2013 with a very optimistic plan to launch the aircraft by 2018. Over the years the S-512 project went through many changes along with alterations to the timeline. Currently, the company is developing a version that will be able to accommodate up to 18 passengers. According to the Boston-based company, the supersonic jet will be capable of flying at speeds up to Mach 1.6 (1,100mph), which is 500mph faster than any other civilian jet. This will drastically cut down the travel time from New York to London to just three hours. The Spike S-512 will also offer a range of 6,200 nautical miles (about 7,100 miles), which will make it suitable for non-stop travel between major international cities.
While the company has been operating in a stealth mode over the last few years, the company’s founder and CEO Max Kachoria says there’s nothing to be worried about. In a blog post last year, the company stated that the S-512 program “is moving along very nicely and we are very excited about the progress made this year.” The company opening up reservations for the supersonic jet also shows confidence in its progress and its commitment towards the ultimate goal of bringing back supersonic air travel.
It’s not clear if the company is accepting a reservation fee for the jet which will have a starting price of $100 million when it officially goes on sale. However, this is also the first time billionaires have been given the opportunity to pre-order a supersonic jet for their fleet. The only problem is the timeline for the development of the jet cannot be blindly trusted.
The first supersonic jet without a sonic boom
Spike Aerospace claims that its S-512 will be the first supersonic jet in the world to fly beyond the speed of sound “without producing a loud, disturbing sonic boom on the ground.” Equipped with the company’s proprietary Quiet Supersonic Flight Technology, the aircraft has been designed from the ground up to travel at supersonic speed quietly and efficiently. The devastating effects of the sonic boom were one of the major reasons behind the failure of the iconic Concorde.
The United States along with many other countries have regulations in place that restrict civilian jets to fly supersonic, which practically restricts such jets to fly beyond the speed of sound only above oceans. However, Spike S-512 with its proprietary technology that allows it to fly supersonic without sonic boom won’t face the same limitation, making it a major selling point for the aircraft.