American Airlines will buy up to 20 jets from aircraft maker Boom Supersonic, which aims to promote supersonic and superfast flight.
Boom Overture’s four-engine jets promise speeds of up to Mach 1.7 on water, more than double the speed of today’s fastest commercial jets – meaning the jet could fly from Miami to London in less than the usual nine hours.
A year ago, United Airlines agreed to buy 15 Boom Jets. In 2016, Virgin Atlantic partnered with Boom to build and test aircraft in an attempt to make flights more affordable.
American Airlines has an order for 130 planes to fill the boom while the deal is in hand, including options – American has the option to buy 40 more jets – worth about $26 billion, Reuters reported. Boom’s Overture jets, which can carry 65 to 80 passengers, are expected to begin rolling off Boom’s Greensboro, North Carolina, production line in 2025, followed by test flights in 2026. Test flights for the other jet, the XB-1, are already delayed, so deliveries for the Overture could also be delayed.
Boom planes, while incredibly fast, were not as fast as the famous Concorde, which flew at a speed of Mach 2.04. In the year Concorde made the first supersonic flight in 1976, flying from New York City to London in three hours.Concorde was in the sky until 2003, when Concorde made its last commercial flight due to several issues with its aircraft. First, the flights were expensive to operate and used a lot of fuel, meaning they cost thousands of dollars per ticket. Concorde planes were incredibly loud due to their “sonic booms” – so loud, in fact, that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned supersonic commercial flights on land.
Boom Overture flies over land at about 20% faster speeds than underground flights, but not nearly as fast as over 600 on mostly transoceanic routes.
In January of last year, the FAA issued new final rules that clear the way for the resumption of supersonic commercial flight. Besides Boom, other companies are looking for ways to bring this technology to life. Virgin Galactic It’s partnering with Rolls-Royce to develop a supersonic jet by 2020, and NASA and Lockheed Martin are also looking to design a jet that can break the sound barrier with silence.
Boom told TechCrunch that the Overture has automated noise-reduction features such as engine updates and an automated noise-reduction system that is no louder than today’s subplanes and meets the International Civil Aviation Organization’s sound level requirements.
American Airlines and Boom haven’t gotten out of the ballpark for ticket prices yet, but Boom says it’s designing an Overture that costs airlines 75% less than Concorde and is profitable for airlines at prices similar to business class. The Overture jet is designed to run on sustainable aviation fuel, or a blend, so supersonic planes burn more fuel per passenger than regular commercial jets, hopefully reducing environmental costs.