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Supersonic Passenger Planes May Begin Test Flights in 2017

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An F-18 Hornet, a twin-engine supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole fighter jet takes off for a flying display during the third day at the Farnborough International Airshow in Hampshire, southern England, on July 11, 2012. (Credit: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/GettyImages)

The time it takes to fly from New York to London may be cut by more than half if Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and a Denver start-up are successful in their effort to create a new supersonic passenger plane.

The manufacturing team for Branson’s Virgin Galactic company is working with Boom Supersonic to test a prototype next year of a passenger plane that can fly at Mach 2.2, more than twice the speed of a typical commercial jet.

Supersonic flights came to a halt after the July 25, 2000, crash of an Air France Concorde outside Paris that killed 113 people, and the downturn in the aviation industry after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Blake Scholl, chief executive of Boom, said safety concerns were not the reason the Concorde jets were taken offline. Instead, he said the planes were too expensive to operate.

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