The Overture supersonic aircraft in United Airlines' livery, flying high above the clouds

United Airlines forges pact for Boom Supersonic airliners

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Interested in flying from Newark to London in just three-and-a-half hours? Nearly eighteen years after the Concorde stopped flying, United Airlines has announced a commercial pact with Denver-based Boom Supersonic to add up to 50 supersonic aircraft to its global fleet.

Under the terms of the agreement, United will purchase 15 of Boom’s Overture-branded airliners, “once Overture meets United’s demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements”, the airline and Boom say in a statement. United also has options to acquire an additional 35 Overture aircraft.

Overture is slated to roll out in 2025, fly in 2026 and carry passengers in 2029, which is a few years later than the originally anticipated service-entry date. Boom says Overture will be capable of flying at speeds of Mach 1.7, which is twice the speed of today’s fastest airliners.

Notably, Overture is expected to be the first large commercial aircraft to be net-zero carbon from day one, optimized to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). And, as part of their arrangement, United and Boom will work together to accelerate production of greater supplies of SAF.

“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,” says United CEO Scott Kirby, who has led the carrier as it partners with leading tech companies seeking to decarbonize air travel.

To wit, United in February revealed that it had entered into an agreement to invest in urban air mobility company Archer, which is developing an all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

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Boom, meanwhile, reckons there are roughly 500 routes connecting major hub airports that Overture will accommodate. In addition to Newark-London, other potential future Overture routes for United are Newark-Frankfurt in four hours and San Francisco-Tokyo in six hours.

While supersonic travel conjures up images of well-heeled passengers sipping champagne and eating caviar as they jet across the Atlantic, Boom does not necessarily want airfares to be in the stratosphere for passengers. As such, the firm is targeting the same economics as today’s roundtrip business class. Overture will be designed with features such as in-seat IFE and contactless technology, according to Boom.

“The world’s first purchase agreement for net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step toward our mission to create a more accessible world,” says Boom Supersonic founder and CEO Blake Scholl.

“United and Boom share a common purpose — to unite the world safely and sustainably. At speeds twice as fast, United passengers will experience all the advantages of life lived in person, from deeper, more productive business relationships to longer, more relaxing vacations to far-off destinations.”

Boom’s one-third-scale XB-1 demonstrator aircraft rolled out last year, and its net-zero carbon flight test program is underway. The company says Overture’s order book, including purchases and options, stands at 70 aircraft, and that it is working with the United States Air Force for government applications of Overture.

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Featured image credited to Boom Supersonic