The Boom Supersonic XB-1 engines are running. The company released an update on the flight test program progress, including details on the installation and first test runs of the three General Electric J85 engines on board.
The GE J85 engine is on the XB-1 demonstrator. The image is via Boom.
The first round of tests starts with one engine. Confirmation of basic functions and testing of other on-board systems powered by the engines can be done with this setting.
All three engines will be activated from there. Eventually it will run at full speed. Various shift rates will be tested.
The XB-1 is on the taxiway at the airport. The image was sent via boom.
The plane is on the ground. Most of it will be without the aircraft. The key initial tests are run with the plane tethered to the ground via reinforced anchors to make sure it doesn't move even at full throttle.
The plane will taxi under its own power at the Denver airport where it is being developed. The company expects a max ground speed of 70 miles/hour during the initial testing.
Boom will load XB-1 on to a trailer and dive it to Mojave once it is satisfied with the engine integration and test results. Higher speed ground tests can be done on the larger, more remote runway. The company expects to operate the test flight program from Mojave as well.
But not the supersonic jet.
The development of the XB-1 aircraft is exciting, but not much of what it demonstrates will translate to the planned Overture supersonic passenger aircraft.
The XB-1 is on the ramp at the airport. The image was sent via boom.
The body shape will be different. The J85s won't power the larger aircraft. Boom hasn't released any details on what engines will power the jet. In July 2020, it signed an agreement to further research with Rolls Royce.
The J85s will run on traditional kerosene throughout the test and demonstration flight process, while Boom promises that Overture will run on sustainable aviation fuel. The company will purchase carbon offsets to account for the fuel burn.
The timelines for XB-1's first flight or further developments with Overture are not clear. United's theoretical 2029 operational supersonic fleet is not likely. It's still probably possible.
More about Boom's evolution towards supersonic service.