The American airline United Airlines has signed an agreement with Denver-based aerospace company Boom Supersonic to add aircraft to its global fleet as well as a cooperative sustainability initiative – a move that facilitates a leap forward in returning supersonic speeds to aviation.
United plans to buy 15 of Boom’s ‘Overture’ airliners once Overture meets United’s demanding safety, operating, and sustainability requirements, with an option for an additional 35 aircraft. The entry into service of this type of aircraft would mark the return of supersonic flights that ceased in 2003 with the end of the legendary Concorde.
The Boom Overture is designed to be the world’s fastest civilian aircraft, capable of carrying up to 88 passengers and flying at speeds of Mach 1.7 (1,300 mph or 2,099 km/h) – twice the speed of today’s fastest airliners. This means that Overture can connect more than 500 destinations in nearly half the time – for example, a trip between Newark and London in just three and a half hours, Newark to Frankfurt in four hours, and San Francisco to Tokyo in just six hours.
Once operational, Overture is expected to be the first large commercial aircraft to be net-zero carbon from day one, optimized to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). It is slated to roll out in 2025, fly in 2026, and expected to carry passengers by 2029. United and Boom will also work together to accelerate the production of greater supplies of SAF.
“The world’s first purchase agreement for net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step toward our mission to create a more accessible world,” said Blake Scholl, Boom Supersonic founder, and CEO. “United and Boom share a common purpose – to unite the world safely and sustainably. At speeds twice as fast, United passengers will experience all the advantages of a life lived in person, from deeper, more productive business relationships to longer, more relaxing vacations to far-off destinations.“
Boom Supersonic has also built a one-third-scale trijet supersonic demonstrator version of the Overture called the XB-1, which is built to break the sound barrier, reduce drag, and planned to make its first flight in late 2021.