Supersonic commercial flight is to return within the next decade, with United Airlines confirming the purchase of 15 Overture craft from Boom Supersonic.
In an announcement on Thursday, the two companies revealed plans to begin passenger flights in 2029, with the Overture planes powered by 100% sustainable fuel, meaning they’ll be net carbon zero.
United has the option to secure 35 more aircraft, which are capable of speeds twice as fast as current passenger jets. The two companies say the trip from New York’s Liberty Airport to London Heathrow will take three and a half hours, rather than six and a half it currently takes.
The Overture planes won’t be as fast as the Mach 2.04 (1,564mph, more than twice the speed of sound) speeds hit by the retired Concorde fleet, but will hit speeds of Mach 1.7 (1,304mph). Commercial supersonic travel has been absent from our skies since the retirement of the famously gas guzzling Concorde fleet in 2003.
The cruising altitude will be 60,000 feet and the Overture will have a range of 4888 miles. Like Concorde, the additional height will enable passengers to see the curvature of the Earth. There’ll only be 65-88 passengers on board the 205ft long craft, suggesting it’ll be a high-priced experience, at least initially.
The in-flight experience looks suitably swish with concept drawings showing a large seat-back display and positively massive windows. There’s also a sizeable table and ledge for the best laptop if you wanna get some work done.
While the vow to create sustainable aviation fuels sounds like bit of an oxymoron, Boom is working with Prometheus Fuels, a company that removes Co2 from the air and turns it into jet fuel.
As well as its commitment to sustainable aviation fuels, Overture won’t see the sonic booms caused by breaking the speed of sound thundering over the land. There’ll be coastal buffer zones. From there it’ll only cruise over at Mach 1 or below.
The Overture vessels will go into production in 2025 with the first test flight planned for 2026. Boom is also planning on building a LEET-certified production facility.
As part of today’s announcement, United CEO Scott Kirtby said: “United continues on its trajectory to build a more innovative, sustainable airline and today’s advancements in technology are making it more viable for that to include supersonic planes.
“Boom’s vision for the future of commercial aviation, combined with the industry’s most robust route network in the world, will give business and leisure travelers access to a stellar flight experience. Our mission has always been about connecting people and now working with Boom, we’ll be able to do that on an even greater scale.”