American upstart seeks hotshot guinea pig for Concorde-a-like airliner

Ex-military supersonic daredevil? Come hither...

An American startup claiming to be building a modern-day Concorde is hiring a test pilot.

Boom Supersonic, which, among other things, enjoys support from (who else?) Richard Branson, tech incubator Y Combinator, and a slack handful of venture capitalists, is recruiting a chief test pilot who will put its 1,451mph aircraft through its paces.

The Denver-based company is building a research-and-development aircraft named the XB-1, and it seems that the guinea pig will initially be in charge of this two-seater.

A one-third scale model of the Boom passenger airliner, the XB-1 has a design top speed of 1,451mph. Judging by Boom's page on the aircraft, its marketing team seem to know how to talk the talk.

In contrast, the 55-seat airliner design bears a marked resemblance to Concorde – much as the Soviet Union's Tupolev Tu-144, nicknamed Concordski. The Tu-144 was a straight visual ripoff of Concorde, whereas Boom's design retains the delta wing but makes a number of changes – in particular, moving the engines to the rear of the fuselage rather than slinging them under the wings. On flights of more than 4,500 nautical miles the Boom must make a "tech stop", which looks very much like a refuel.

The 1,451mph top speed is reportedly 100mph greater than Concorde's limit, a symbolic gesture but a meaningful one. The 60-year-old Concorde design is still the world's fastest ever commercial passenger aircraft.

As for the test pilot, Boom's chief aviator will almost certainly be an American ex-military pilot judging by the job spec. Boom asks for graduates of US air force or navy test pilot courses with three years' experience of testing military or high-performance aircraft. The prospective test pilot must have at least 1,500 hours as pilot-in-command, along with 100 hours of PIC flight testing – and experience of supersonic flight testing.

"You will also participate in flight test plan development, technical and safety reviews, perform flight simulation evaluations, provide leadership and guidance to other project test pilots, and participate in the development of the aircraft's flight manual," says the job advert.

British Airways flights from London to New York, the route once flown by Concorde and the one Boom hopes its aircraft will take over, is currently flown by Airbus A318s – the smallest commercial passenger airliners made by the EU manufacturer. These aircraft fly from London City Airport, instead of Heathrow, and on the westbound leg make a stop at Ireland's Shannon airport for customs clearance and refuelling to get across the Atlantic. The 32-seat jet (business class only) takes around eight hours to complete the transatlantic leg.

If you happen to be an ex-USAF test pilot with advanced experience, the Boom job looks pretty interesting. As for the rest of us, did someone mention half price $budget_airline$ flights to Gibraltar next February? ®


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