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Concord has revolutionized air travel. When will supersonic flights return?

For nearly three decades, Concorde has revolutionized air travel by delivering passengers at more than twice the speed of sound. With its first scheduled supersonic flight in 1976, the Concorde captured the attention of the world by taking passengers from New York to London in just three hours. This legacy continued until 2003 when Concorde made its last commercial flight.


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How Concorde pioneered supersonic commercial flight


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A number of problems plagued the Concorde, which was designed and manufactured by the British and French governments. First, it was incredibly expensive to run and consumed a lot of fuel. This resulted in flights becoming few and far between and limited to passengers who could afford to spend several thousand dollars on tickets. In fact, round-trip tickets aboard the Concorde can cost around $12,000 each.

In addition, because the plane was flying faster than the speed of sound, it created a sonic boom, an explosive noise caused by shock waves, which was a nuisance to people on the ground.

In 2000, an Air France Concorde flying from Paris to New York crashed due to engine failure after takeoff. Concorde was scrapped shortly thereafter. The last scheduled commercial flight operated by British Airways left John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York for London Heathrow Airport on 24 October 2003.

Decades later, several companies want to bring back supersonic flight. In 2021, United Airlines agreed to buy 15 aircraft from Boom Supersonic, a startup working on supersonic commercial aircraft. United aims to have these planes in the air by 2029.

Virgin Galactic also threw their hat into the ring. In 2020, the company said it would team up with Rolls-Royce to develop a supersonic aircraft that could carry passengers at three times the speed of sound.

And NASA and Lockheed Martin really want to shake things up with their X-59 jet. The companies are teaming up to develop an aircraft that breaks the sound barrier with a quieter sonic boom. In fact, when the X-59 flies overhead, someone on the ground will hear a noise no louder than a car door slamming.

Watch our video above to find out…

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