Japan Airlines invests in supersonic aircraft firm

Japan Airlines has made a $10 million investment in Boom, a US firm that is aiming to bring back Concorde-like supersonic air travel.

The Denver-based start-up, which also has backing from Sir Richard Branson, is in the process of developing the world's first commercially viable supersonic aircraft.

Boom said on Tuesday that as part of the agreement with Japan Airlines, the carrier will help refine the aircraft design and have the option to purchase up to 20 Boom aircraft through a pre-order arrangement.

Blake Scholl, founder and chief executive of Boom, said: "We've been working with Japan Airlines behind the scenes for over a year now.

"Our goal is to develop an airliner that will be a great addition to any international airline's fleet."

Boom aims to be carrying passengers on its planes by the beginning of the next decade, halving flight times in the process.

A flight from San Francisco to Tokyo that takes 11 hours today could take less than five and a half on one of its aircraft flying at Mach 2.2, according to the company.

Sir Richard's space firm has been collaborating with Boom on its supersonic jet development and the tycoon has first dibs on the first 10 aircraft produced.

Yoshiharu Ueki, president of Japan Airlines, said: "We are very proud to be working with Boom on the possible advancement in the commercial aviation industry.

"Through this partnership, we hope to contribute to the future of supersonic travel with the intent of providing more 'time' to our valued passengers while emphasising flight safety."