United Airlines has announced a firm order of 15 “Overture” jets from Denver-based aerospace company Boom Supersonic, with an option for 35 more, contingent upon the new airliner meeting United’s safety, operating and sustainability requirements.
United Airlines Orders Supersonic Jets
This answers the question of what United would reveal on Instagram on June 3, 2021.
The new supersonic jet by Boom Supersonic, dubbed Overture, promises the following technology:
- Passenger capacity: 65 – 88
- Length: 205 feet (about the same length as a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner)
- Cruising altitude: 60,000 feet
- Speed: Mach 1.7 (Concorde had a cruising speed of Mach 2.02)
- Range: 4,250 nautical miles (4,888 miles)
- Emissions: Net-zero carbon emissions (using 100% sustainable aviation fuel [SAF])
Operating just under twice the speed of sound, This new Boom Overture jet promises to drastically cut air travel times, with new reduced transatlantic and transpacific flight times:
- New York to Frankfurt: four hours (currently seven hours)
- New York to London: three hours, 30 minutes (currently six hours, 30 minutes)
- San Francisco to Tokyo: six hours (currently 10 hours, 15 minute)
Boom Supersonic plans to roll out the aircraft upon the following timeline:
- 2025 – rollout
- 2026 – first flight
- 2029 – enters passneger service
More spacious than Concorde, the new Overture jet promises “comfort, productivity and privacy, featuring in-seat entertainment screens, ample personal space, and contactless technology.”
Based upon a single mock-up cabin rendering, it appears the aircraft can accommodate fully lie-flat business class seats in a 1-1 configuration.
Is This A Serious Order?
Despite being a “firm” order there are contingencies a mile long that likely give United tremendous amount of wiggle room. Not only must the new Boom supersonic aircraft obtain FAA safety certification: it must meet United’s new rigorous sustainability requirements.
United CEO Scott Kirby noted:
“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. Our mission has always been about connecting people and now working with Boom, we’ll be able to do that on an even greater scale.”
Boom Founder Blake Scholl added:
“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. 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.”
In all likelihood, United will have complete discretion over whether to proceed with this order due to inevitable production delays, inherent in virtually any new aviation-related technological innovation.
There’s excitement surrounding this announcement because a supersonic jet has not transported passengers since Concorde’s untimely retirement in 2003. As Jon Ostrower noted, the last time United ordered supersonic aircraft, humans had not walked on the moon. While this particular model may never take off, the new partnership between Boom and United demonstrate the longing for faster air travel. That it may be done without pollution is all the more exciting. The two companies will work together to carry passengers at supersonic levels again. I am rooting for their success.
Can you imagine United Airlines supersonic jets by the end of the decade?