The Dubai Air Show started off with a bang as Emirates ordered 40 Dreamliners and also heard more details from Boom, the ambitious United States startup that wants to bring back supersonic travel.

The supersonic plane is still in its design stage but Boom founders say it will be 2.6 times faster than a regular aircraft, is 10 per cent faster than the Concorde and would carry up to 55 passengers.

Its founder Blake Scholl was at the show and told media that a concept proving test flight by a one-third-scale demonstrator aircraft will be carried out next year, and the company aims to have regular flights by the middle of next decade.

The $US200 million ($290m) plane's seats will cost about the same as a current business class ticket.

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Boom founders say this supersonic plane will be 2.6 times faster than a regular aircraft. Photo / Boom Technology
Boom founders say this supersonic plane will be 2.6 times faster than a regular aircraft. Photo / Boom Technology

So far there have been 76 pre-orders including 10 options to buy, reportedly from Virgin Atlantic.

The plane that has been dubbed "Son of Concorde" can fly at 2300kph and would halve travel time across the Pacific.

It is designed to fly up to 16,670km, which could put New York within non-stop range from Auckland.

Scholl told a media conference the company was still working through what sort of engine it will have, but Boom has said its aircraft would have different economics than Concorde, a commercial failure.

Concorde was troubled by high operating costs due to heavy fuel consumption and low utilisation and load factors, due to high fares.

The company says the viability of supersonic flight depended entirely on the ability to reduce operating costs sufficiently to allow a viable business model.

Surprisingly, this requires just a 30 per cent efficiency improvement over Concorde's 50 year-old airframe and engines.

The fundamental technologies required for this exist today (such as composite structure) and have recently been accepted by regulators.

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The biennial show started with a big order for Boeing 787-10s worth US$15.1 billion ($21.9b) by Emirates.

Emirates' agreement includes conversion rights to switch the aircraft to 787-9s, offering the airline additional flexibility for its future fleet and global network.

The special fly-past is the first time two Emirates wide body aircraft have performed a flying display together. Photo / Supplied
The special fly-past is the first time two Emirates wide body aircraft have performed a flying display together. Photo / Supplied

Emirates' Dreamliners will be delivered in a mix of two- and three-cabin class configurations, potentially seating between 240 and 330 passengers. These aircraft will be delivered in phases from 2022 onwards and into the 2030s.

Boeing's rival, Airbus was hoping to get more A380 orders from Emirates but airline president Sir Tim Clark said the planemaker needed to make firm commitments on the future of the superjumbo, demanding certainty before placing a follow-up order that production will continue until all aircraft are delivered.

Clark said: "It's their call," Bloomberg reported.

"It's really for them and really for the ownership of the airline that it will not have a problem on its hands in the future."

Emirates has taken delivery of 100 A380 aircraft and has another 42 on order.

The manufacturer has cut back output of the superjumbo to adapt the production line to slowing demand, raising concern that it might prematiurely end the programme outright to cut its losses.