Boom Supersonic's XB-1 Prototype accomplished first taxi tests
September 16, 2023
On Aug. 23, Boom Supersonic's scaled down prototype the XB-1 completed taxi tests on runway 30 at Mojave Air & Space Port. Earlier this year, XB-1 was moved from the company's hangar in Centennial, Colorado to the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California to continue preparations for flight.
According to Blake Scholl, Boom Supersonic's founder and CEO (excerpted from Boom Supersonic press release): "The recent progress made towards XB-1's first flight reflects the team's collective efforts to build and safely fly the world's first independently developed supersonic jet."
In addition to the ongoing testing, XB-1 recently received an experimental airworthiness certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), following a detailed aircraft inspection.
The press release also stated, Boom has also secured letters of authorization to allow Chief Test Pilot Bill "Doc" Shoemaker and test pilot Tristan "Gepetto" Brandenburg to fly XB-1. Additionally, letters of agreement with airspace authorities are in place allowing for flights of the aircraft over the Mojave Desert. XB-1's historic first flight will occur in the same airspace where Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager first broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 and the Mach 3+, strategic reconnaissance SR-71 "Blackbird" first flew in 1964.
"It's fitting that XB-1 is now progressing toward first flight at the Mojave Air & Space Port, home to more than 50 first flights and other significant aviation events," said Bill "Doc" Shoemaker, Chief Test Pilot for Boom Supersonic. "I'm looking forward to flying XB-1 here, building on the achievements of other talented engineers and pilots who inspire us every day to make supersonic travel mainstream."
In preparation for flight, Boom's test pilots have completed hundreds of hours in the simulator for aircraft evaluation, operations development, training and human factors assessments to achieve the highest levels of safety. The test pilots also maintain flight proficiency in a T-38 trainer aircraft, the same aircraft that will be used as a chase plane for all flight tests of XB-1. To further increase safety, the test pilots will use the T-38 to practice formation flying.
During an interview posted on Boom's website, Boom's Chief Test Pilot Bill 'Doc' Shoemaker, joined the company two years ago and has made invaluable contributions to the XB-1 program.
For Doc, the road to XB-1 encompassed military service, a Stanford doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics, and the first flight of several prototype aircraft. A former U.S. naval aviator, and a graduate of the United States Naval Test Pilot School, Shoemaker has flown more than 5,000 flight hours in 50 aircraft types and has 900 carrier arrested landings.
Test pilot Tristan "Geppetto" Brandenburg is also a former U.S. naval aviator and graduated from the United States Naval Test Pilot School.
Both test pilots visited Mojave Air & Space Port in 2016 when their U.S. Navy Test Pilot School graduating class came to the Hansen Hangar for a special test pilot school BBQ. Their class came to the west coast for tours and qualification flights with the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, tours at MASP and glider soaring at Tehachapi Mountain Airpark.
The XB-1 is 71 feet in length and serves as a scaled-down prototype with the primary objective of validating pivotal technologies slated for employment in Boom Supersonic's future supersonic airliner, the Overture, which will seat an estimated 65 to 80 passengers. The Overture plans to achieve remarkable speeds of up to Mach 1.7. Photo courtesy Boom Supersonic
The XB-1 is powered with three General Electric J85 turbojet engines producing a combined maximum thrust of 12,300 pounds of force. It is the same engine that powers the T-38 aircraft that Shoemaker and Brandenburg are flying to maintain flight proficiency and practice formation flights. A T-38 will also be used as a chase plane for all flight tests of the XB-1.