Aircraft

United Airlines eyes supersonic travel through new deal with Boom

United Airlines eyes supersoni...
A render of United Airline's supersonic plane
A render of United Airline's supersonic plane
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A render of United Airline's supersonic plane
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A render of United Airline's supersonic plane
United Airlines has signed a deal to purchase up to 50 of Boom's Overture supersonic planes
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United Airlines has signed a deal to purchase up to 50 of Boom's Overture supersonic planes
A conceptual look inside Boom's Overture supersonic plane
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A conceptual look inside Boom's Overture supersonic plane
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There are more than a few ifs, buts and maybes hanging over the development of Boom's Overture supersonic airliner, but if the company can jump through the necessary hoops United Airlines will be ready to grab a slice of the action. The carrier has inked a deal with the company to buy as many a 50 of the futuristic aircraft, which it says could begin commercial flights by the end of the decade.

As Boom's flagship model, Overture is designed to be the world's fastest civilian aircraft, with a capacity of up to 88 passengers and the ability to hit speeds of Mach 1.7 (1,300 mph or 2,100 km/h). This could mean trips between Los Angeles and Sydney in 8 hours 30 minutes, or Tokyo to Seattle in 4 hours and 30 minutes.

The company has built a one-third-scale demonstrator version of the Overture called the XB-1, which is designed to break the sound barrier and expected to fly sometime next year. The Overture plane itself won't be rolled out until 2025 at the earliest, but the small glimpses offered so far seem to be enough for United Airlines to want to hop on board.

United Airlines has signed a deal to purchase up to 50 of Boom's Overture supersonic planes
United Airlines has signed a deal to purchase up to 50 of Boom's Overture supersonic planes

Under the newly announced purchase agreement, the carrier will buy 15 of the Overture airliners, with an option to buy a further 35 should it meet a set of safety, operating and sustainability requirements. The two will work together to tick off these boxes, and will also need to find a way to navigate the murky waters of supersonic flight regulations over American soil.

Flights in excess of Mach 1 have been banned over US land since 1973 due to noise pollution generated by sonic booms, though the Federal Aviation Administration is currently considering new rules that could streamline the process of gaining exemptions. These might be granted on a case-by-case basis after analyzing the individual costs and benefits, but there are still thorny issues to resolve, including the carbon footprint of these types of flights.

All that extra speed doesn't come for free, with supersonic flight burning much more fuel than subsonic flights. Boom makes a point of labeling the Overture the world's most sustainable supersonic aircraft and, for what it's worth, says it will operate as a net-zero carbon plane from day one on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel. Should it make the many necessary leaps, United Airlines says the supersonic planes will start carrying passengers in 2029.

Source: Boom

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7 comments
7 comments
yawood
That time saving doesn't seem to be worth the cost (of either development or the cost of a ticket). It normally takes about 14 hours 30 minutes to fly from LA to Sydney. This is going to save 6 hours - so what? It really needs to come down to less than 3 hours to be worthwhile. The Atlantic crossing might be worth it but the Pacific one isn't.
Chris Coles
Now add that there is a very successful supersonic airliner design, with past models still airworthy, called Concorde. If there is to be a revival of commercial supersonic flight; then it is an easy exercise to provide a competitor against Boom . . . but let me bet that the US will; again; do everything in it's power to prevent such competition. We here in Europe could present a successful supersonic airliner; fully certificated; within a year . . . Now; why not!
Dan_of_Reason
I'm not against the idea, but presumably the ticket price will be the equivalent of a first class ticket on a conventional airliner. (The Concord was very expensive.) Spending an extra 6 or 8 hours in a first class seat isn't unpleasant; food, drinks, sleep, productivity, etc. Also, given size constraints, the 88 passengers will likely have fairly coach-like spacing.
paul314
It sounds as if passengers will have to value their time at least in the mid hundreds of dollars an hour to make the differential plausible on a pure business basis, but the prestige may be worth the increment in some situations as well. I wonder whether the seats will be comfortable enough that you won't still need a day or two on either end to recover. From a window count it looks like 4 across in super-expensive class but only 2 in mind-boggling.
ClauS
I am betting my first flight with Boom Overture that this was a reaction to the closure of Aerion. They had to show that their business is still booming.
Spud Murphy
Wow, you would think with what we know about the environmental problems facing the human species and the planet at large, the people proposing such an aircraft would ask themselves if this is a responsible thing to do. Apparently not, it seems money still trumps everything else, including common sense.
Nelson Hyde Chick
News flash, we need to be shrinking the individual environmental footprint of people, not expanding it for wealthy turds.