December 5, 2017 / 12:12 PM / 13 days ago

Japan Airlines invests $10 million in supersonic jet company Boom

(Reuters) - Denver-based startup Boom Supersonic has won a $10 million investment from Japan Airlines Co Ltd (9201.T) in its push to build a supersonic passenger aircraft it claims will be faster, quieter and more affordable to fly than the Concorde.

Boom has 76 pre-orders for a 55-seat plane that it says will be able to slash the flight time from New York to London in just three hours and fifteen minutes.

The firm has said its jetliner, expected to enter service by the mid 2020s, will fly at speeds of Mach 2.2, 10 percent faster than the British-French joint-venture Concorde, which popularized supersonic jet travel in the 1970s.

Japan’s second largest airline has the option to purchase up to 20 Boom aircraft and will assist efforts to hone the aircraft’s design and passenger experience, the companies said on Tuesday.

It is the first commercial airline to back the venture with investment. Virgin Atlantic is among airlines to have placed pre-orders with Boom, 14 years after the final flight of the Concorde, to date the world’s fastest passenger airplane.

An artist's impression shows Boom's 55-seat supersonic aircraft in this undated handout on December 4, 2017. REUTERS/Boom Supersonic Handout via REUTERS

Industry figures are still debating whether regular supersonic flights, banned over the United States in 1973 by the Federal Aviation Administration, are feasible around modern cities due to the shock waves from the sonic booms the planes create.

Boom says its aircraft, priced at $200 million, will produce a sonic boom at least 30 times quieter than the Concorde, which was also dogged by high operating costs and fuel consumption and low capacity utilization.

    Boom estimates that fares for its aircraft would be 75 percent lower than the Concorde and comparable to current business class tickets, due to better fuel efficiency.

    General Electric Co (GE.N), Honeywell International Inc (HON.N) and Netherlands-based TenCate Advanced Composites are among suppliers for Boom’s supersonic jets.

    It has raised $51 million in backing so far from venture capital firms 8VC, RRE, Lightbank, Y Combinator and Caffeinated Capital, as well as angel investors including Sam Altman, Paul Graham and Greg McAdoo.

    Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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