Supersonic air travel took another step closer to returning to the skies Thursday when the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a final rule to streamline approval for supersonic flight testing in the United States.
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The rule clarifies the information that companies need to gain FAA approval to conduct flight testing at speeds greater than Mach 1.
There are two companies -- Boom and Aerion -- going full throttle with plans to bring supersonic airplanes to the skies by the mid-2020s. The travel times could reportedly be reduced between New York and London in as little as three hours and 15 minutes.
Aerion is partnering with a one-time supersonic plane maker Boeing and General Electric on the development of its aircraft. Meanwhile, Boom is working with Collins Aerospace -- a division of Raytheon Technologies -- Japan Air Lines and the United Kingdom's Rolls Royce for propulsion systems.
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The new information issued Thursday lays out a more "user-friendly format" to "help ensure that companies developing these aircraft clearly understand" the application process, which is a "key step" to bringing their products to market, the FAA said.
In order to further advance transportation, the agencies have been working to advance the development of civil supersonic aircraft which combine lighter and more efficient composite materials with new engine and airframe designs.
However, the agencies are committed to reintroducing civil supersonic flight safely.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said testing of supersonic aircraft will only be conducted "following consideration of any impact to the environment.”
The FAA still prohibits civil supersonic flight over land in the United States, the agency said.
There have been no supersonic commercial flights in the U.S. since June of 2003 when Air France and British Airways retired their fleet of Concorde aircraft which traveled between London or Paris and New York starting in 1976.
The airlines cited falling passenger numbers for ending the service. The average round-trip price was $12,000 per seat.
Passenger carriage worsened after July of 2000 when an Air France Concorde crashed minutes after taking off from Paris killing all 109 people on board and four on the ground.
In the 1970s American aircraft maker Boeing had developed the Boeing 2707 supersonic jet. According to Simple Flying, the company had received more than 100 orders for the plane. The idea of supersonic flight was so popular then that Seattle -- where Boeing is headquartered -- named its then National Basketball Association franchise the "SuperSonics."
However, a combination of design issues and a loss of federal funding forced Boeing to discontinue any production of the 2707 aircraft.