Boom Supersonic Overture: all you need to know about the 'new Concorde'

Orders for the plane, which will cut travel times significantly, are ramping up

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If there was one thing that could be changed when it comes to flights, most travellers would probably say the seemingly endless hours spent in the sky.

So, what if that time could be substantially cut?

Boom Supersonic, the US plane manufacturer, plans to have the answer with its new Overture jet, which is set to transport customers at twice the speed of today's fastest commercial aircraft, and is regarded as "the new Concorde".

Here's all you need to know about the Overture:

By how much will Overture cut travel times?

It proposes to take passengers from New York to London in only 3.5 hours, with its four wing-mounted engines allowing it to cruise faster than the speed of sound when flying over water, and at just under Mach 1 when flying above land.

This would also allow it to do Los Angeles to Sydney in eight hours — a trip that usually takes around 15 hours. Overture is being designed to fly more than 600 routes around the world.

What are its specifications?

Boom puts the Overture's range at 4,888 miles, which is somewhat below the likes of the superjumbo Airbus A380, which can fly more than 8,000 miles. Overture is, after all, built for speed.

It is 201 feet long, has a wingspan of 106 feet, will cruise at an altitude of 60,000 feet and is planned to carry between 65 and 80 passengers at a time.

Boom said the design is the culmination of 26 million core-hours of simulated software designs, five wind tunnel tests, and the careful evaluation of 51 full design iterations, resulting in an economically and environmentally sustainable supersonic airliner.

“Aviation has not seen a giant leap in decades. Overture is revolutionary in its design, and it will fundamentally change how we think about distance,” said Boom founder and chief executive Blake Scholl.

A larger diameter towards the front of the aircraft and a smaller diameter towards the rear minimises drag and maximises fuel efficiency at supersonic speeds.

Carbon composite materials, which are lighter, stronger, and more thermally stable than traditional metal construction, are incorporated into the majority of the build.

When will it be ready?

Its first full-scale manufacturing facility at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, North Carolina, was announced in January. It will include the final assembly line, test facility and customer delivery centre.

Boom said it will create more than 1,750 jobs in North Carolina by 2030, expanding to a total of more than 2,400 jobs by 2032.

The Overture Superfactory will begin production in 2024. The first Overture aircraft is expected to roll out in 2025, fly in 2026, and carry its first passengers by 2029.

“With some of the country’s best and brightest aviation talent, key suppliers, and the state of North Carolina’s continued support, Boom is confident that Greensboro will emerge as the world’s supersonic manufacturing hub," said Mr Scholl.

However, Boom does not yet have an engine manufacturer lined up. It is talking with Rolls Royce and others.

“With a supersonic jet, you don't design a plane, you design an engine first,” Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at consultant AeroDynamic Advisory, told Bloomberg. “This is just a collection of freehand drawings until that engine happens.”

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 18, 2018, Boom Supersonic co-founder, Blake Scholl, poses for a photograph in front of an artists impression of his company's proposed design for an supersonic aircraft, dubbed Baby Boom, at the Farnborough Airshow, southwest of London.  United Airlines announced plans on June 3, 2021, to buy 15 planes from airline startup Boom Supersonic in a move that could revive the high-speed form of air travel. Under the commercial agreement, United would purchase Boom's "Overture" aircraft once the planes meet "United's demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements" with an aim to start passenger travel in 2029, the companies said in a joint press release.
 / AFP / Adrian DENNIS

Which airlines have placed orders?

American Airlines on Tuesday confirmed an order for 20 Overture aircraft, with an option for an additional 40. American paid a non-refundable deposit on the initial 20 aircraft.

United Airlines last year agreed to a similar deal with Boom, announcing it would purchase 15 Overture jets once safety, sustainability and operating requirements were met. United has the option to purchase an additional 35 supersonic jets.

Virgin, meanwhile, signed an option to buy 10 of the planes back in 2016.

The plane carries a list price of $200 million.

How does it compare to Concorde?

Concorde was the king of the skies when it came to speedy travel from when it was introduced in 1976 until it was retired in 2003, three years after an Air France flight crashed into a hotel, killing everyone on board.

The first supersonic passenger-carrying commercial jet was similar in size to the Overture at 202ft long, while its maximum range was 4,500 miles and it carried up to 100 passengers.

“Concorde was a technological marvel of its time, but economically and environmentally unsustainable,” said Mr Scholl last year.

Concorde's operating cruise speed was Mach 2, about 1,350mph. It flew from London to New York in about three hours.

Is Overture sustainable?

Boom says it is the first commercial aircraft manufacturer to incorporate sustainability from day one.

Overture’s fleet will be able to run on 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuels.

Overture’s LEED-certified production facility will leverage clean electricity generation and facilitate waste-minimising assembly.

Updated: August 23, 2022, 5:52 AM
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