American Airlines on Tuesday said it has placed a non-refundable deposit as part of an agreement to buy up to 20 Boom Supersonic Overture aircraft. The deal includes options on another 40 of the planned supersonic transports, designed to carry between 65 and 85 passengers at a top speed Mach 1.7 and to a range of 4,250 nm. The sides did not reveal the dollar amount of the down payment.
During July’s Farnborough Airshow, Boom revealed the final production design of the Overture, including a new propulsion system based on four engines rather than two and a revised fuselage shape that features a larger diameter toward the front of the aircraft and a smaller diameter toward the rear. However, the start-up has yet to reach agreement with an engine manufacturer willing to commit to the investment required to develop a new a powerplant for the aircraft. It has previously said that it would power a planned XB1 technology demonstrator with three of General Electric's JB-85 15 turbofans.
Boom announced the changes as Northrop Grumman signed an agreement to help develop special mission variants of the Overture. The companies said they plan to pursue new use cases for the Overture to support government and military operations that require rapid response, including quick-reaction surveillance and reconnaissance, command and control, as well as mobility and logistics missions such as emergency medical and troop transport.
Appearing at the show, Boom CEO Blake Scholl reported that the company has raised more than $600 million in development funding. “We’re very confident that the capital we need is out there in the markets and we’ve had great success at obtaining it,” he said. “I expect that to continue into the future.”
Boom hopes that the latest funding injection from American Airlines will lend further credibility to a project skeptics have characterized as unrealistic at a time the industry has turned much of its focus to sustainability. However, Boom insists that the Overture will operate on a net zero carbon basis since the manufacturer intends to require airlines to commit in sales contracts to using only a 100 percent blend of sustainable aviation fuel. On routes where that goal is not possible from the start, it says that carbon offsets will be used to compensate for any carbon emissions.
In July 2021, United Airlines said it had reached a commercial agreement with Boom to buy 15 of the new supersonic jetliner, and hold options for another 35. However, that announcement did not mention the payment of deposits to back up the provisional sales.
“Looking to the future, supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver for our customers,” said American Airlines CFO Derek Kerr. “We are excited about how Boom will shape the future of travel both for our company and our customers.”
Boom plans to roll out the first Overture prototype in 2025 and begin deliveries in 2029.