Will Boom Supersonic Jets Revolutionize Air Travel?

On Tuesday, American Airlines became the latest company to buy the dream of ultra-fast travel with the order of 20 Boom Supersonic planes.

Fifteen of the same planes, which promise to cut flight times, were already booked by United Airlines last year, and Denver-based Boom says it already has orders for 130 planes from companies including Japan Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

But the planes don’t even exist: Overture’s first model is expected to roll out of Boom’s North Carolina factory in 2025, with the plane entering commercial service by the end of the decade.

The promise of the new planes is potentially ground-breaking: The planes are designed to travel at twice the speed of today’s fastest commercial jet — at Mach 1.7 over water — while carrying slightly fewer passengers — from 65 to 80

American Airlines is the latest airline to order a supersonic jet package from Boom, which is still in development.
Supersonic Boom

The launch of the Overtures would restart commercial supersonic transatlantic travel nearly 20 years after the Franco-British Concorde supersonic airliner was grounded and out of service amid exorbitant ticket prices, high fuel consumption and high running costs, and then of the fatal accident at Charles de Gaulle airport. in Paris in July 2000.

The victims of the AF4590 crash, when the plane crashed into a hotel shortly after take-off, included all 109 people on board and four on the ground. The incident was not related to supersonic travel.

Could Boom’s supersonic jets succeed where Concorde failed?

Why did Concorde fail so spectacularly? Andrew Charlton, managing director of Aviation Advocacy, an independent air transport consultancy, shared his thoughts on the topic with Newsweek.

“One [reason] it was that you could only fly [the supersonic jets] in certain limited sectors,” he said. “The second was that it was outrageously expensive, burned a lot of fuel, and didn’t fit many passengers.”

Boom has learned from the Concorde failure and the company says its Overtures won’t have the same problems.

“The [Boom’s] Jet-powered aircraft promise a number of things,” Charlton said. “The first is that with newer technology and a curved nose, the aircraft will make a significantly smaller sonic boom than the Concorde supersonic aircraft, which did a noise that was described by the British Noise Advisory Council. in 2004 as intolerable”.

Boom’s Overtures are also expected to cover many more routes than Concorde’s supersonic aircraft ever could.

“One of the problems Concorde had was that it could only fly supersonically over water, which seriously limited its usefulness. You couldn’t fly, say, from Singapore to Sydney, you couldn’t fly from LA to New York , you couldn’t fly. It doesn’t fly from London to Hong Kong.”

Supersonic jets
Boom’s Overture is expected to be ready by 2025 and take commercial flights by the end of the decade.
Supersonic Boom

Boom says the Overtures won’t have the same problem.

The company has said the planes are designed to fly more than 600 routes around the world “in as little as half the time”, promising that “flying from Miami to London in just under five hours and from Los Angeles to Honolulu in three hours is are among the many possibilities” offered by airplanes.

“They also claim that you don’t have to worry about the environment,” Charlton added.

“Overture is the first supersonic aircraft designed with a focus on sustainability from day one,” says Boom. “We are optimizing the aircraft to accommodate 100% sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and facilitate net zero carbon operations.”

Boom said it aims to achieve net zero carbon dioxide by 2025, when Overture’s first model is ready, and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

Pricing details have yet to be released, as each airline will decide the exact price of flying supersonic jets. But according to Boom, the company is designing the Overture to “allow airlines to offer fares comparable to today’s business class.”

Newsweek Boom Supersonic has been contacted for comment.

Will the opening of Boom change air travel as we know it?

“At the moment what we have is marketing and nothing else,” says Charlton.

“The first is that no aircraft on earth is currently certified to fly at Mach 1.7, although I think it’s only a matter of time.” Concorde flights had a top speed of just over Mach 2.

“The second thing is that all the SAF (sustainable aviation fuel) available in the world combined would only fuel Lufthansa for four days – so somehow Boom seems to think it has a right to be at the front of the queue of the SAF that are available,” he added.

“All over the world, especially in Europe, there are mandates for airlines to use SAF. So there’s going to be enormous pressure on the SAF market, which nobody seems to have thought about yet. Everyone is happily assuming that we will. We have the I KNOW we want.”

Charlton also said Boom’s Overtures does not have an engine manufacturer working on the four engines designed to power the planes. “They don’t even have a registered engine manufacturer,” he said. “Rolls-Royce spent a while working with them to try and develop things, but now they’ve gone.”

Newsweek has asked Boom to confirm this statement.

Even if these open questions were resolved, Charlton doesn’t believe the new planes will revolutionize air travel as a whole.

“It will be the icing on the cake,” he said. “It’s not going to change aviation as we know it. It’s aimed at a very small sector of the market. If every human in the world got supersonic jets for the business cabin, it might change aviation, but I don’t think it will. what’s going to happen, because I think the costs are going to become too prohibitive.”

But Charlton’s skepticism is not shared by many in the aviation industry, especially those already investing in the new planes.

“Looking forward, supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver to our customers,” said Derek Kerr, American’s chief financial officer.

“We’re excited about how Boom will shape the future of travel for both our company and our customers.”

In response to Kerr’s enthusiasm, Blake Scholl, chief executive of Boom, said: “We are proud to share our vision for a more connected and sustainable world with American Airlines.”

“We believe Overture can help American deepen its competitive advantage in network, loyalty and overall airline preference through the paradigm-changing benefits of cutting travel times in half.”

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