Paris Air Show

Boom Unveils More Details on Supersonic Airliner

 - June 15, 2019, 4:00 AM
London to New York in three hours, 15 minutes is the target of Boom’s Overture 55-passenger airliner.

Boom Supersonic (Chalet C24), U.S. developer of the proposed Mach 2.2 Overture commercial airliner, is highlighting at the Paris Air Show the program’s progress and more key details about the 55-passenger aircraft.

On the eve of the Le Bourget gathering Boom told AIN those details include fuel efficiency and airline operational economics data as well as initial aircraft size. Progress is exemplified by the current build of the XB-1 (aka “baby Boom”), a two-person demonstrator to prove key supersonic flight technologies. Rollout is expected by year-end with first flight in early 2020. Successful wind tunnel tests were conducted on a scale mockup in 2017.

In January Boom announced closing on a $100 million Series-B investment round, bringing total funding to more than $141 million.

The company arrives in Paris on the heels of its agreement to deploy Dassault Systèmes’ 3DExperience platform and “Reinvent the Sky” application to support the aircraft’s development, manufacture, and certification. Boom cofounder and v-p, technology Joshua Krall said the company wasn’t “constrained by legacy software systems” in its choice, and noted 3DExperience was economical to deploy and could be quickly scaled up as needed. The platform allows real-time collaboration among engineers, program managers, and even the chief test pilot to define requirements and access and reuse common processes and parts with full traceability. The platform can halve development time for a first prototype, according to Dassault. The Boom Overture’s entry into service is projected in the mid-2020s.

Flying at 60,000 feet, Overture would be capable of traveling between New York and London in 3 hours 15 minutes; Tokyo and San Francisco in 5.5 hours; or Sydney and Los Angeles in 6 hours 45 minutes (with a fuel stop en route). Engine selection has not been announced, but Boom plans to use a derivative of existing turbofan technology.

Five-year-old Boom has 30 aircraft on pre-order from Japan Airlines (JAL) and Virgin Group. In 2017 JAL also invested $10 million in the company. Boom, which recently located to larger facilities, now has more than 130 full-time employees and plans to double that number by next March.

Even with prohibitions on civilian supersonic flight over land, about 500 routes are “economically viable,” Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl has said, with costs for passengers equivalent to subsonic business class. “A ticket would cost about $5,000 for transoceanic” passage between the U.S. and Europe, according to Scholl. Seat dimension will be comparable to short-haul first-class seating. He believes flight over land will be allowed in the future, opening additional routes to Overture. In the airport environment, the supersonic airliner would be quieter than conventional jet transports, according to Scholl.

While its projected 4,500 nm range isn’t sufficient for transpacific routes, even with a technical stop in Tahiti for fuel, total travel time would be half the current 15 hours between the U.S. and Australia. About 10 percent of the viable routes pass through the Middle East, which is “ideally positioned as a connecting hub between Australia, Asia, and Europe.” The U.S. company sees a need for “1,000 to 2,000 airplanes over the first 10 years” of operation, Scholl said.

In March Boom announced Hoar Program Management will lead its site selection process for a U.S. manufacturing facility for the aircraft, and it forecasts demand at some 100 aircraft per year.

Key Boom team members include Bill James, whose prior work includes leading the wing design team for the Airbus A380 as vice president of production operations; and Lourdes Maurice, former executive director of the FAA Office of Environment and Energy, on Boom’s advisory board.