United Airlines has become the first US carrier to place an order for Boom’s Overture aircraft. The jet, which is currently under development, is designed to fly faster than the speed of sound, at Mach 1.7 (1304mph). United has ordered 15 of the jets, with an option for 35 more.
What is Overture?
Overture is a 65-88 seater supersonic aircraft being designed by Denver based aerospace company, Boom. The aircraft will be able to fly at double the speed of current commercial jets, Boom states that “Overture can connect more than 500 destinations in nearly half the time”. This includes lucrative routes, such as New York to London in just three and a half hours.
The proposed aircraft will also fly much higher than modern airliners, cruising at 60,000ft, rather than the more usual 36,000ft.
Boom is hoping that a prototype of Overture will be ready by 2025, with its first flight happening in 2026, before entering commercial service in 2029.
It has been 18 years since Concorde, the World’s last commercial supersonic jet, took off for the final time. The plane, although an icon of the sky, was plagued by problems. A limited number of seats, a high fuel burn and a loud sonic boom, which eventually restricted Concorde just to cross-Atlantic journeys, all culminated in the retirement of the aircraft.
Despite its name, Boom is hoping that its new design will help to limit the sonic boom caused by Overture. It’s hoped that this noise reduction will enable Overture to fly over land as well as sea. However, convincing governments to allow the jet into their airspace may prove difficult.
In the 18 years since Concorde retired, concerns over man-made impacts on the environment have grown considerably. Boom is trying to address environmental concerns by designing Overture to be net-zero from day one. The company hopes that the aircraft will be run entirely on sustainable aviation fuel (SAFs), however, SAFs currently account for just 6% of global aviation fuel. Production will need to be scaled up if Boom hopes to hit its targets of SAF powered aircraft.
United joins the supersonic club
If United does take delivery of Overture, it will only be the fourth airline in the world to ever operate a supersonic carrier. Air France and British Airways with Concorde, and Aeroflot with the Tupolev TU-144.
However, under the terms of the agreement, United will only purchase Overture once it “meets United’s demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements”. United is not the only airline that has shown interest in Boom’s project. In 2017 Japan Airlines (JAL) and Boom announced a strategic partnership, with JAL investing $10million and agreeing to a pre-order arrangement for up to 20 aircraft.
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