Cloud technology underpinning Boom's speedy development of its supersonic aircrafts

Boom is optimistic that its Overture aircrafts will be flying passengers before the end of the decade.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor
Image: Boom Supersonic

Supersonic jet manufacturer Boom expects that by the end of the decade, its Overture aircrafts will be able to fly passengers worldwide in half the time that would typically be spent flying in a commercial jetliner.

But Boom Supersonic founder and CEO Blake Scholl admitted that without the company running in the cloud, it would not have otherwise been possible to design something like the Overture.

He explained that, traditionally, developing new aircraft is "very compute intensive" and requires manufacturers to build their own compute clusters in-house, which can inhibit a manufacturer's ability to run simulations, and therefore the ideas that can be tested and designs that could come to market.

"Running in the cloud, we're able to tap into virtually unlimited compute capacity when we need it. When we've got a key question or a bunch of different designs that we want to try, we could suddenly build one of the world's largest supercomputers, run hundreds of wind tunnel tests in parallel, and then be able to pick the winners," Scholl said, speaking during the virtual 2021 Amazon Innovation Day.

"For example, one of the most difficult things to get right in a supersonic aircraft is the ability to go very efficiently at high speed, but also take off and land safely in a controlled way. Those two goals or intentions require a lot of experimentation and refinement and simulation to come up with a design that is efficient at high speed, but safe for take-off and landing.

"That ability to have quick turn times on large numbers of simulations, exactly when you need them, leads to a very significant improvement in team productivity. A six-fold increase versus what we could do with a finite on-premise cluster."

In a bid to ensure the Overture will be ready to fly passengers, the company is currently testing its XB-1 supersonic jet dubbed as the "technology demonstrator" for its Overture airline.

"Our XB-1 supersonic demonstrator is in ground test now and it will be in the skies late this year or early next year, and rapidly we're shifting our focus to our Overture airliner. Next year we break ground on the factory, and the first Overture will roll out in 2025 and start flying just five years from now in 2026. Our goal is to complete our safety testing and be ready to fly our first passengers before the end of the decade," Scholl said.

He added that Boom has already received pre-orders from Japan Airlines as one of its initial launch customers. "Ultimately, we see supersonic is something that every major airline will need to stay competitive," Scholl said.

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