American Airlines buys up to 20 jets from Boom Supersonic, an aircraft manufacturer that wants to commercialize supersonic and high-speed flights.
Boom’s Overture four-engine jets promise speeds of up to Mach 1.7 above water, which is twice the speed of today’s fastest commercial jets — meaning the jet can fly from Miami to London in just under five hours, rather than the standard nine hours.
About a year ago, United Airlines also agreed to purchase about 15 Boom jets, and in 2016 Virgin Atlantic partners with Boom to build and test aircraft in an effort to make historically expensive flights more affordable.
With American Airlines’ deal in hand, Boom has an order for 130 planes to fill, including options — American has an option to buy 40 more of the jets — worth about $26 billion, Reuters reports:. Boom’s Overture jets, which can carry 65 to 80 passengers, are expected to come off the production line in Boom in 2025 in Greensboro, North Carolina, followed by test flights in 2026. Boom expects its jets to carry their first passengers in 2029, but Boom has already been delayed in flight testing for his other jet, the XB-1, so delivery of the Overture may also be delayed.
Boom’s jets, while incredibly fast, aren’t as fast as the legendary Concordes, which flew at Mach 2.04. The Concorde, which made its first supersonic flight from New York City to London in three hours in 1976, was in the air until 2003, when the Concorde made its last commercial flight due to a number of problems with the jets. First, the flights were expensive to run and consumed too much fuel, meaning they would cost thousands of dollars for a ticket. Concorde jets were also incredibly loud for their “sonic booms” — so loud, in fact, that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned overland supersonic commercial flights.
Boom’s Overture will fly overland at a speed about 20% faster than subsonic flight, but not as fast as on the 600+ mostly transoceanic routes for which Overture is best suited.
In January last year, the FAA issued new final rules to pave the way for the reintroduction of supersonic commercial flights. In addition to Boom, other companies are exploring ways to bring this technology back to life. Virgin Galactic partnered with Rolls-Royce to develop a supersonic jet in 2020, and NASA and Lockheed Martin also want to design a jet that can break the sound barrier with a quieter sonic boom.
Boom told toptecheasy.com that the Overture has noise-reducing features, such as engine updates and an automated noise reduction system that ensures supersonic takeoff is no louder than current subsonic jets and meets noise levels required by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
American Airlines and Boom have not yet come up with a ticket price margin, but Boom said it is designing the Overture to be 75% cheaper than Concorde for airlines to operate and profitable for airlines at rates comparable to business class. The Overture jet is designed to run on sustainable jet fuel or a mixture, so hopefully that will reduce environmental costs, as supersonic jets use much more fuel per passenger than normal commercial aircraft.