American Airlines will buy up to 20 jets from Boom Supersonic, a company that aims to make supersonic, or very fast, flight a commercial reality. Boom’s four-engine Overture jets promise speeds of up to Mach 1.7 over water, which is twice as fast as today’s fastest commercial aircraft. That means the jet can fly from Miami to London in just under five hours instead of the usual nine.
American Airlines To Buy 20 Jets From Boom Supersonic!
United Airlines also agreed to buy 15 Boom jets about a year ago, and in 2016 Virgin Atlantic partnered with Boom to build and test planes to make the previously expensive flights more affordable. With the American Airlines contract, Boom has a total order of 130 aircraft worth about $26 billion to fulfill, including options. America has the option to buy 40 more aircraft. Boom’s Overture jets, which can carry between 65 and 80 passengers, are expected to begin rolling off the Greensboro, North Carolina, assembly line in 2025.
Test flights are scheduled for 2026. Boom expects its jets to carry their first passengers in 2029, but testing for its other jet, the XB-1, has been delayed, so delivery of the Overture could also be delayed.
The legendary Concorde flew at a speed of Mach 2.04, much faster than Boom’s jets. Concorde made its first supersonic flight from New York City to London in 1976, taking three hours. It flew until 2003 when it made its last commercial flight due to problems with its nozzles. For one thing, it was expensive to fly and used too much fuel, costing thousands of dollars for a ticket. The “sound waves” from the Concorde jets were also very loud. In fact, they were so loud that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned commercial supersonic flights over land.
Boom Supersonic Overture will fly about 20% faster over land than subsonic flights, but not as fast as on the more than 600 mostly transoceanic routes for which Overture is best suited.
Last January, the FAA issued new final regulations that will allow commercial flights to fly faster than the speed of sound again. In addition to Boom, other companies are looking for ways to bring this technology back to life. In 2020, Virgin Galactic and Rolls-Royce will collaborate to develop a supersonic jet. NASA and Lockheed Martin are also trying to build a jet that can break the sound barrier with a quieter sonic boom.
Boom Supersonic told TechCrunch that the Overture has noise-reducing features such as updated engines and an automatic sound deadening system. These features ensure the supersonic takeoff is no louder than today’s subsonic jets and meets International Civil Aviation Organization noise standards.
American Airlines and Boom have not yet said how much tickets will cost, but Boom has said that the Overture jet will be 75% cheaper to operate than Concorde and will be profitable for airlines at prices similar to business class. The Overture jet will run on sustainable aviation gasoline or a blend of fuels. This should benefit the environment since supersonic jets use much more fuel per passenger than normal commercial aircraft.
Environmental groups are concerned that higher speeds will lead to more pollution. About 2% of all CO2 emissions are caused by the aviation industry, but supersonic aircraft are known to be much more polluting. Boom explains that his goal is to be carbon neutral, but to fly faster requires more fuel.
Boom’s XB-1 demonstrator is behind schedule. It was supposed to begin test flights in 2017 so it could start carrying real people in 2020. According to the company, the demonstrator has just begun taxi tests at Centennial Airport and is expected to fly for the first time later this year. Boom is also testing new technologies that could dampen the sonic boom that occurs when a supersonic aircraft breaks the sound barrier.