There is “broad interest” for Boom Technology’s supersonic airliner in the Middle East, CEO Blake Scholl said on Monday.
Speaking to journalists at the Dubai Airshow, Scholl said that about 10 percent of the approximately 500 supersonic routes that are economically viable will originate in the Arabian Gulf region.
“The Middle East is ideally positioned as a connecting hub between Australia, Asia and Europe, and many of those routes could connect right here,” he added.
Although he declined to give specifics, Scholl noted that Boom is currently in discussions with 20 airlines around the world, with “broad interest” from regional carriers.
The first test flight of Boom’s XB1 aircraft - dubbed the “baby boom” is scheduled to take place in late 2018. Boom’s 55-seat supersonic airliner is expected to take flight in 2023.
According to the company, the aircraft will fly as much as 2.6 times faster than conventional passenger aircraft and 10 percent faster than the now defunct Concorde, meaning that the eight hour flight between Dubai and London could be cut down to approximately four hours and 30 minutes.
Already, five carriers have placed pre-orders for 76 of Boom’s passenger aircraft. Only one of the airlines, Virgin Atlantic, has publicly identified itself, with Sir Richard Branson confirming that the carrier holds options for 10 aircraft.
On Monday, Scholl also announced that it had begun the process of site selection for Boom’s production manufacturing facility.
“Looking at the first 10 years of the program, we see a need for 1,000 to 2,000 of our aircraft, which means we’ll need a manufacturing site that can build at least 100 units a year,” he said.
Although Boom is still “early” in the selection process, Scholl said the company will be looking at sites of between 250,000 and 750,000 square feet.
“Our criteria include transportation and logistics, labour availability, utilities, taxes, real estate and regulatory environment,” he noted, added that the selection process is expected to take between six to nine months, followed by a one or two year construction process.
An official RFP (request for proposal) will be announced in Q1 2018, and Boom has engaged real estate firm JLL for support on researching and validating potential sites.
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