Boom, the US aerospace company hoping to build a "baby" Concorde, has come a step closer to bringing back supersonic flight for commercial passengers after securing a major investment from Japan Airlines.
Boom Technology has formalised an until-now secret partnership with JAL, with the carrier putting US$10 million ($14.5m) into the company and ordering 20 of the faster-than-the-speed-of-sound aircraft.
Blake Scholl, founder of Boom, called the agreement an "historic" milestone not just for the company, but for supersonic passenger flight, according to the Daily Telegraph.
He said that while Concorde had pre-orders from potential airline customers, only two of them ever followed through - British Airways and Air France.
"JAL is the first airline in history to make a material financial commitment to a faster future," Scholl said.
"Concorde had dozens of pre-orders — but none carried any financial commitment, and ultimately British Airways and Air France got their Concordes for just £1 apiece."
British Airways and Air France were never able to make supersonic flight a mainstream commercial reality, and their Concorde services relied on first-class only flights to make money.
However, Colorado-based Boom claims it will be able to make the economics work by using new technology and designs, and utilising JAL's experience.
Scholl added: "Decades ago, Concorde delivered a headline feature: speed. JAL is helping Boom deliver something further: a mainstream supersonic airliner, which is practical, reliable, and economic."
He added: "Their decades of experience as a world-class operator, expertise in everything from passenger experience, to safety, to technical operations will help us build an airliner not just with marquee speed, but also with the practicality required to truly change the way millions travel."
Boom hopes to have a prototype of its aircraft flying next year. The jet - nicknamed "Baby Boom" - will fly at Mach 1.9 at 40,000ft, the equivalent of 1,300mph - more than twice the speed of a jumbo jet.
A full-sized version of the aircraft, which will carry up to 55 passengers, most likely in an all business-class configuration - will be even faster, touching 1,700mph.
JAL is not the first business to back Boom. The company says it has had about 70 offers of orders from a handful of unidentified airlines.
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic has an option for 10 of the aircraft, while Virgin Galactic, the company's space-travel wing, will be involved in the testing process.
Yoshiharu Ueki, JAL president, said: "Through this partnership, we hope to contribute to the future of supersonic travel with the intent of providing more time to our valued passengers."
JAL was bailed out by the Tokyo government in 2010 after collapsing in bankruptcy. The airliner relisted in Japan two years later.