Sir Richard Branson backs mini-Concorde that can fly from London to New York in 3.5 hours

Sir Richard Branson has lent support to a new plane unveiled in Denver yesterday, which aims to make a 3.5-hour flight from London to New York for an ''affordable'' $5,000 return fare.

Branson has the option to buy the first 10 of the $200 million jets made by Boom Technology, the Colorado-based company, when they take to the skies in the early 2020s. The first test flights are expected to take off by the end of next year.

''I have long been passionate about aerospace innovation and the development of high-speed commercial flights," said.

Virgin Galactic, which is an innovator in the space travel segment, found it easy to decide to work alongside Boom Technology.

''Through Virgin Galactic's manufacturing arm, the Spaceship Company, we will provide engineering and manufacturing services, along with flight test support and operations as part of our shared ambitions.''

A miniature version of the plane – about a third of the actual size was on display yesterday in a hangar on the outskirts of the city.

The plane, which has a pointed nose and slender frame resembles the Concorde, which made the flight in three hours and 30 minutes for about $20,000 a ticket,  till it was discontinued in 2003. But as costs spiraled over the years, coupled with high fuel costs and the 9/11 downturn, the flights were no longer feasible.

Claimed to be the 'world's fastest civil aircraft ever made', the XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator would take off on its first test flight in late 2017.

The subsonic flight test would be conducted near Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California in partnership with Virgin Galactic's The Spaceship Company.  

"Sixty years after the dawn of the jet age, we're still flying at 1960s speeds," said Blake Scholl, a former Amazon executive and CEO and founder of Boom, the Daily Mail reported.

"Concorde's designers didn't have the technology for affordable supersonic travel, but now we do."