Earlier this week American Airlines placed an order for up to 20 supersonic Overture  passenger jets made by Boom Technology, Inc. (Boom Supersonic).  United Airlines ordered 15 Overtures in June 2021.

The Overture is a proposed supersonic commercial airliner capable of carrying 65-88 passengers at speeds up to Mach 1.7 (1,800 kmph; 1,118mph).  That is twice as fast as current airliners.  The top speed would be achieved only over water.  The Overture will have a range of  4,890 miles (7,870 km). 

Boom Overture

The only other supersonic airliner, the Concorde, had a top speed of Mach 2.2.   It entered service in 1976 and was withdrawn in 2003.

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Air France Concorde F-BVFF on static display at CDG.

Boom plans to make its first flight later this year with a 1/3 scale demonstrator called the XB-1(Baby Boom). If the test goes as planned, production of the Overture will begin in 2023, and the first flight could happen in 2026. If everything goes perfectly, the company thinks the Overture could be ready for passenger flights in 2029.

Of course everything won’t go perfectly. Boom doesn’t even have an engine for the plane. And winning certification by regulators, including the Federal Aviation Administration, will probably lead to delays.

With a passenger load that is even smaller than the Concorde by a considerable margin, and the high cost of sustained supersonic flight, it may be hard for airlines to make a profit with the Overture. I don’t think there will be an economy cabin on this aircraft. Business passengers willing to spend big bucks will be the target market. Even so, the question will be how much more will those customers be willing to pay to travel across the Atlantic and Pacific in half the time.

Moreover, the environmental impact is something I haven’t seen addressed except that the goal is to use sustainable fuel. How much fuel would be required depends on the engines. Those haven’t even been designed.

Final Thoughts

Like the Concorde, the Overture looks fast. I’d love to have the opportunity to experience supersonic flight. The price for the experience will probably be more than I’d care to pay. Even if points or miles could be used, it will probably take a ton of them. Besides, when I do fork over cash or miles for a business- or first-class flight, I like the experience to last. Getting there faster is actually a negative from my point of view. The environmental impacts will be an important factor for regulators and many potential customers.

Do you think having a supersonic airliner is a good idea? What would it take to get you to fly one, if anything.

Have a great weekend!