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Japan Airlines invests in US supersonic startup Boom

  These planes can reduce their flight time by half

Japan Airlines wants to see a world in which Tokyo and the west coast of the United States are separated by only five and a half hours at supersonic speeds.

Japan Airlines ( JAPSY ) or JAL, has invested $ 10 million in Boom Technologies, a Denver-based company that wants to revive supersonic air transportation by mid-next decade.

The Boom passenger plane expects a day of construction to sail at 1450 mph – 2.2 times the speed of sound – and accommodate 45 to 55 passengers in business class seats. That's about half the Concorde now retired.

As part of the investment in Boom, JAL also has options to buy up to 20 of the supersonic aircraft.

Related: Five airlines want the supersonic to fly again

The JAL financing is a significant endorsement of a well-respected airline.

"It's about pointing out to the broader ecosystem that this is something that there is a real interest on the part of airline customers," said Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom, in an interview with CNNMoney. "Money is largely symbolic, but it is an important symbol, JAL does not contribute 10 million dollars without thinking too much about it."

Scholl said that Boom has been working with JAL since last year. Airlines that get online early for all-new jets can benefit from an intimate participation in the design process, giving their wish list the features they believe will please passengers, pilots, hostesses and maintenance personnel.

Related: Branson and the start reveal the supersonic jet

Civilians have not been able to buy a ticket to fly supersonic since the Concorde retired in 2003. The French-British jet traveled twice speed of sound, crossing the Atlantic in only three and a half hours.

The flagship flew regularly between Europe and New York for 27 years, but withdrew from service due to high costs. His retirement was also accelerated by an accident in 2000 that killed 113 people.

Including JAL's investment, Boom has raised a total of $ 51 million, according to Scholl, and suggested that there are more funds in preparation.

  boom supersonic airliner artist rendering
Representation of an artist of the planned supersonic jet from Boom.

The money the company already has is more than enough to do it by developing a small two-seat demonstration airplane and performing its first flight test, he said. It is expected that this aircraft, called XB-1, will fly at the end of next year.

The project still faces extremely high obstacles. Its initial funding is a drop in the bucket compared to the billions of dollars that Boom will need to develop, build, test, certify and mass-produce a large-scale aircraft.

Related: What happened to the spectacular Soviet rival of Concorde?

In the age of jet aircraft, there has never been a new participant in commercial aviation that did not receive significant state funds or I already have a track record that produces other aircraft.

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Boom says it has interest from five airlines to buy a total of 76 of their supersonic aircraft if it manages to take the plane to market.

Virgin Atlantic Airways is the only other customer that has been publicly identified. You have options to buy the first 10 Boom jets.

"Richard received special treatment in exchange for being the first," Scholl said, referring to Virgin's founder, Sir Richard Branson.

Related: Elon Musk wants to take you by plane to anywhere in the world in less than an hour

Scholl acknowledged that JAL is the first airline to place appreciable dollars behind its interest in the plane, which would fly at more than twice the speed of sound.

Aircraft manufacturers covet the support of large, established airlines. JAL and its rival All Nippon Airways, were among the first to buy Boeing ( BA ) 787 Dreamliner in 2004, a major boost to the program.

"Through this partnership, we hope to contribute to the future of supersonic travel with the intention of providing more" time "to our valued passengers while emphasizing flight safety," said Yoshiharu Ueki, president of Japan Airlines, in a statement on the Boom investment.

Related: The sharp-nosed Japanese aircraft could change the rules of the game for American aviators

The Japanese archipelago is one of the most attractive areas for supersonic flight because airplanes do not have to travel in large numbers to reach the big cities That reduces the risk of noise pollution caused by a sonic boom. Supersonic flight is prohibited in Europe and the United States.

With twice the speed of sound, a flight between San Francisco and Tokyo would take about five and a half hours, including a fuel stop along the way, Scholl said. Today, a conventional subsonic aircraft makes the trip in just over 11 hours.

Speed ​​is not only attractive for intercontinental flights, Scholl said. A flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong could be reduced from approximately five hours to around two hours, offering airlines a supersonic transport service between two of the largest financial centers in the world.

CNNMoney (Seattle) First publication on December 5, 2017: 2:07 a.m. ET

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