United Airlines Throws Weight Behind Boom Supersonic

 - June 3, 2021, 8:04 AM
United Airlines says it will order at least 15 Boom Supersonic Overtures once the design meets its safety, operating, and sustainability requirements. (Image: United Airlines)

United Airlines said Thursday that it has reached a so-called commercial agreement with Boom Supersonic to order 15 Overture supersonic jets “once Overture meets United's demanding safety, operating, and sustainability requirements.” The agreement also specifies options on another 35 airplanes.

Boom plans to fly a demonstrator of its supersonic concept sometime this year as it looks toward a rollout of a full-scale example in 2025 and entry into service in 2029. Powered by three General Electric J85-15 turbojets, the composite-bodied XB-1 will fly up to Mach 2.2 ahead of the planned introduction of the 65- to 88-seat Overture. Boom staged an online rollout ceremony for its one-third-scale XB-1 demonstrator last October and in March announced a “strategic investment” from American Express Ventures.

Boom says it plans to start building the Overture at a new, still unidentified factory location in 2022. 

The design includes what Boom calls one of the highest-efficiency civil supersonic intakes ever tested. During the rollout, Boom CEO Blake Scholl explained the importance of the aircraft’s engine intakes, which act to slow the speed of the airflow to roughly half the speed of sound to accommodate the subsonic GE engines on the demonstrator. Boom has worked for the last five years with Rolls-Royce on the planned medium-bypass turbofans for the Overture.

Planning to fly the XB-1 on sustainable alternative fuels (SAF), Boom promotes the program as 100 percent carbon-neutral. In 2019 the company formed a partnership with Prometheus Fuels for the supply of sustainable jet fuel during the XB-1 test program.

Scholl noted that while safety and sustainability account for two of the three pillars of the program, speed lies at its core. If successful, the Overture will fly from Tokyo to Seattle in four and a half hours, New York to London in three and a half hours, and Montreal to Paris in four hours.