Spike Aerospace, one of the major ventures that strive to bring back commercial supersonic flight, has hired former Virgin Australia CEO John Thomas in hopes to broaden the appeal of company’s exclusive product.
“Spike Aerospace’s vision for supersonic flight is tremendously compelling and ideally suited for all the major international airlines,” John Thomas was quoted in Spike’s press release. The document does not detail what position he will take in the company.
Although Thomas held the title of Virgin Australia CEO for less than a year, he was likely hired for his background of working as a senior advisor in a number of airlines, including Delta, United, Qantas, Emirates, British Airways and others. He has also advised several major Business & General Aviation (B&GA) companies, such as Piper Aircraft, VistaJet and Flexjet.
Spike’s main aim is to develop its S-512 – a commercial jet capable of Mach 1.6. The S-512 would allow its customers to fly transcontinental flights 40% faster than regular aircraft, something not seen since the Concorde but promised by an number of companies in the last decade.
S-512’s planned speed is lower than that of the majority of its competitors, but Spike counts on its quietness. Ear-bursting sonic booms was what restricted flight paths of the first generation of supersonic commercial jets. But the company claims it has designed an aircraft that can break the sound barrier while no more noise than a soft clap will be heard at the ground level.
The cabin could seat up to 18 passengers, bringing it in line with large business jets like Bombardier Challenger 650 or Embraer Legacy 600: a segment that saw significant grow amidst COVID-19 pandemic, while regular airlines were thrown into a crisis
Yet Spike is betting on the same airlines while hiring the former airline executive, according to the press release – in contrast to the promise to “redefine private air travel” just a few years ago. Could this mean that the company hopes airlines will expand into private aircraft leasing in an attempt to cash in on the pandemic-induced trend, or maybe a S-512 cousin with larger cabin and higher capacity is in the plans of Spike?
However it may be, the company promised to deliver its aircraft in the mid-2020s, presumably, just after the predicted end of the crisis. Who knows, the world might be well-suited to receive the new supersonic addition to air travel then.