The world has only known two supersonic aircraft until now: the Concorde, a product of French and British engineering that flew over the world for decades before being withdrawn from the market in 2003, was the Tupolev Tu-144, a Soviet aircraft that only made a hundred flights. Faced with the safety and profitability issues that Concorde flights raise, no airline had risked restarting this insane project of supersonic flight.
But Boom Supersonic, a company founded in Denver, Colorado, in 2014, seems to want to revive the jewel of European aviation in a modern version from its ashes. The crazy project has just won over its alleged customer, United Airlines, the most popular airline in the United States. This major customer, who despite everything has some reservations about his order for 15 “Overtures”, is supposed to accelerate the development of supersonic aircraft test models for the company Boom, which already presented a scaled-down model last year.
According to the Colorado company calendar, the first test model is due to fly in 2025, with marketing launching in 2029 for the “Overture” jet, which could thus be the first supersonic aircraft that could fly since the Concorde shutdown in August.
An ecological supersonic aircraft
Partnering with Boom, at a time when aviation is increasingly criticized for its environmental impact, may therefore be a bad idea for United Airlines, especially when we know that American airlines are committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 details on the Boom Supersonic project, we better understand the intentions of the Colorado Company, and the ecological part of developing this new genre aircraft has not been left out. In fact, “Overture” could use a brand new engine running on a different fuel than the current kerosene, which would make it a very good solution to initiate the transition to cleaner aviation while dividing flight duration by two.
Nevertheless, United Airlines has retained some reservations about this looming partnership with the ambitious private company. Because at the moment Boom Supersonic has never flown a model and the reliability of these models has yet to be proven. Everyone in the aviation industry remembers the horrific Concorde accident in 2000 that caused the crash of European planes. The question of maintenance and profitability also raises questions for United Airlines, which currently “only” ordered 15 aircraft to test them on a few routes. If the partnership is successful, the number 1 airline in the US could order 35 more aircraft in the mid-2030s.
The FAA problem
The biggest problem for United Airlines and Boom Supersonic, however, is that the FAA, the United States Aviation Federation, the body that governs the rules of the United States’ skies, has currently banned supersonic aircraft from their airspace, and has been doing so for an indefinite period of time . This legal rather than technical issue could be a major drag on Boom Supersonic’s development. The existence of this agreement with United Airlines, however, remains a good signal for the company. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine the largest American airline hitting a multi-million dollar deal with a company whose planes can never fly.