Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is partnering with a start-up company called Boom on the production of a new Mach 2.2 commercial airliner. The deal will involve work by Virgin Galactic and its subsidiary, The Spaceship Company.
“Richard has long expressed interest in developing high-speed flight and building high speed flight R&D through Virgin Galactic and our manufacturing organization, The Spaceship Company,” a Virgin Group spokeswoman said. “We can confirm that The Spaceship Company will provide engineering, design and manufacturing services, flight tests and operations and that we have an option on the first 10 airframes. It is still early days and just the start of what you’ll hear about our shared ambitions and efforts.”
Branson is partnering with Blake Scholl, a pilot and former Amazon executive, who is building a prototype of the new jet, called Boom, in an aircraft hanger in Colorado. While several other companies, including Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are developing new supersonic jets Scholl said his plan is likely to beat them to market as it does not require any new technology that would need approval by regulators.
“We are talking about the first supersonic jet people can afford to fly,” Scholl, the founder and chief executive of Boom, said. “This isn’t science fiction, we are actually doing this. You will be able to fly New York to London in three-and-a-half hours for $5,000 return, [which is roughly] the same as [the cost] of business class.”
Boom has assembled an experienced team of engineers and well known financial backers. It also has options for 15 more planes.
The team behind the plane has some serious talent in its blood: the company’s 11 employees have collectively contributed to over 30 aircrafts — having worked on things like the autopilot system on the 787, fighter plane engines, and flight dynamics on Spaceship Two. Some of these guys are ex-NASA, ex-Lockheed, or ex-Boeing….
Boom is announcing today that Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has optioned ten planes, in a deal ultimately valued at about $2 billion dollars. Boom also says they’ve optioned 15 additional planes to a European carrier that it declined to name, bringing the total value of the optioned planes up to $5 billion….
Boom is funded by Y Combinator, Sam Altman, Seraph Group, Eight Partners, and other unnamed angels. Boom declined to comment on whether Virgin was providing capital as part of the deal.