American Airlines is the latest airline to buy into the dream of ultra-fast travel with Tuesday’s order for 20 Boom Supersonic jets.
Fifteen of the same planes that promise to cut flight times were booked by United Airlines last year, and Denver-based Boom says they already have orders for 130 planes from companies including Japan Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
But the jets aren’t even there yet: The first Overture model is slated to launch at Boom’s North Carolina facility in 2025, and the plane will enter commercial service later in the decade.
The promise of the new planes is potentially game-changing: the jets are designed to fly over water at Mach 1.7, twice as fast as today’s fastest airliners and carry only slightly fewer passengers — 65 to 80.
The launch of the Overtures would resume commercial supersonic transatlantic services nearly 20 years after the Franco-British supersonic Concorde landed and was decommissioned due to inflated ticket prices, high fuel burn and high operating costs, and the fatal crash at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris in July 2000 .
The victims of the AF4590 crash, when the plane ran into a hotel shortly after takeoff, included all 109 people on board the plane and four on the ground. The incident had nothing to do with supersonic travel.
Could Boom’s supersonic jets succeed where Concorde failed?
Why did the Concorde fail so spectacularly? Andrew Charlton, Managing Director of Aviation Advocacy, an independent aviation consultancy, shared his thoughts on the matter news week.
“One [reason] was that you could only fly [the supersonic jets] on certain limited sectors,” he said. “The second was that it was insanely expensive, used a lot of fuel and didn’t fit many passengers.”
Boom has learned from Concorde’s failure, and the company says its Overtures won’t cause the same problems.
“That [Boom’s] Jets promise a number of things,” Charlton said. “The first is that the aircraft, with newer technology and a curved nose, will produce significantly less sonic boom than Concorde’s supersonic jets, which made a noise that the British Noise Advisory Council described as unbearable in 2004.”
Boom’s Overtures are also expected to cover many more routes than Concorde’s supersonic jets ever could.
“One of the problems Concorde had was that it could only fly over water at supersonic speeds, which severely limited its usefulness. For example, you couldn’t fly from Singapore to Sydney, you couldn’t fly from LA to New York, you couldn’t fly from London to Hong Kong.”
Boom says the Overtures won’t have the same problem.
The company said the jets are designed to fly over 600 routes around the world “in less than half the time” and promised that “the Miami to London flight will take just under five hours and Los Angeles to Honolulu in three hours belong to the many possibilities” offer the airplanes.
“They also claim that you don’t have to worry about the environment,” Charlton added.
“Overture is the first supersonic aircraft designed from day one with a focus on sustainability,” says Boom. “We are optimizing the aircraft so that it can take 100 percent sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and enable CO2-neutral operations.”
Boom said it aims to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2025, when the first Overture model will be ready, and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
Details on the fares have not yet been released as each airline sets the exact prices for flying the supersonic jets. However, according to Boom, the company is developing the Overture in such a way that “airlines can offer fares that are comparable to today’s business class.”
news week has reached out to Boom Supersonic for comment.
Will Boom’s Overture change air travel as we know it?
“Right now, all we have is marketing and nothing more,” says Charlton.
“The first is that no planes on Earth are currently allowed 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.
“Secondly, all the SAFs (Sustainable Aviation Fuels) available in the world combined would only power Lufthansa for four days – so somehow Boom seems to think it’s entitled to be at the front of the queue for the SAFs that it does are available,” he added.
“Around the world, especially in Europe, airlines are being mandated to deploy SAFs. So there will be tremendous pressure on the SAFs market that no one seems to have thought through yet. Everyone just blithely assumes that we’ll have the SAFs that we want.”
Charlton also said that Boom’s Overtures does not have an engine manufacturer working on the four engines that will power the jets. “They didn’t even sign an engine manufacturer,” he said. “Rolls-Royce spent some time working with them to try and develop stuff, but they’ve gone now.”
news week has asked Boom to confirm this statement.
Even if these open questions were resolved, Charlton does not believe that the new jets will revolutionize air travel as a whole.
“That will be the icing on the cake,” he said. “It will not change aviation as we know it. It is aimed at a very small market sector. If every person in the world picked up supersonic jets for the business cabin, it could change aviation, but I just don’t think that’s what’s going to happen because I think the cost is becoming too prohibitive.”
But Charlton’s skepticism isn’t shared by many in the airline industry – particularly those already investing in the new jets.
“Looking ahead, supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to serve our customers,” said Derek Kerr, American’s chief financial officer.
“We are excited to see how Boom will shape the future of travel for both our company and our customers.”
In response to Kerr’s enthusiasm, Boom Chief Executive Blake Scholl said, “We are proud to share our vision of a more connected and sustainable world with American Airlines.”
“We believe Overture can help American deepen its competitive advantage in terms of network, loyalty and overall airline preference through the paradigm-shifting benefits of halving travel times.”
https://www.newsweek.com/boom-supersonic-jets-air-travel-concorde-1734710 Will boom supersonic jets revolutionize air travel?