Colorado based start-up BOOM is aiming to bring supersonic flight back to the masses!
Dubbed the “Overture” this is a retake on the ill-fated Concordes of decades past and it is their aim to take these vastly improved sound breaking birds to the sky within the next few years. Boom has developed a one-third-scale model of the Overture called the XB-1. The reason behind this is to prove the design principles, cockpit ergonomics, flight envelope, even the experience of flight itself.
Has much changed since the days of the Concorde? Boom has been developing the Overture with cutting edge software and constructing it from ultralight materials wrapped around the super efficient jet engines. It is indeed a quantum leap from the fuel hungry Concordes who ceased their flying days some seventeen years ago.
The team at Boom have struggled to get the Start-up off the ground due to the current paradigms and complacency in the existing aeronautics space made financing it an initial challenge.
With it’s first flight slated “in the near future” in the Mojave Desert, the 65 seat Overture. It won’t be long before seats fill up for the first commercial journey in 2029. United Airlines have signed up
Boom have announced this past June, that Overture will be joining the United Airlines fleet. United has purchased 15 Overture supersonic airliners and secured options on another 35. Looks like they are truly looking towards to future of connecting the planet in a supersonic way!
The build of the Overture
The future airliner will use advanced turbofan engines that won’t need afterburners like the concorde.
Unlike the Concorde build, there is no need for the ‘drooping’ nose in order to see better for take off and landing due to the angle needed for lift. The Overture will rely on virtual views through built in cameras throughout the cockpit.
Through the use of 3D printing and laser aided titanium fusing, prototype parts are able to be fashioned and tested in a matter of hours. New bonding techniques were employed to recently bond the “skin” of the aircraft to the entire fuselage in the XB-1 test plane. With innovations occurring in many steps of the assembly, the test flight is edging closer.
Internally, Boom says:
“As we design a clean-sheet, modern supersonic airliner, we are taking the opportunity to rethink the end-to-end passenger experience. Our goal is to provide a tranquil and stress-free experience from the moment you step aboard – whether you want to work, play, or relax.
“Each passenger has a large personal window, direct aisle access, and dedicated under-seat storage. Seat dimensions will be comparable to short-haul first class, with many subtle and not-so-subtle design improvements. On flights over six hours, airlines may offer a first class lie-flat suite experience.”BOOM Supersonic
With an underlying aim to make the whole process carbon neutral, Boom has approached sustainability from the word “Go”.
The aircraft will be able to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). Boom are currently in the process of discovering the best sources of this fuel for their future operations. Recent test flights of the XB-1 (a smaller test plane) in January 2019 successfully tested the engines using a blend of fuel that was ~80% SAF from waste animal fats.
With a conscious consideration towards community noise impacts it is believed the aircraft will blend in with the quietest of today’s long-haul fleet.
Although construction on the Overture final assembly line won’t begin for several years, we’re already planning how to design a LEED-certified production facility. Overture’s manufacturing centre will also take advantage of on and off-site clean electricity generation.
It is admirable that the team is planning out a recycling process that may not even begin for 40 years. It has however received the attention and research considerations now!
New York to London in three and a half hours is pretty appealing compared to the usual six and a half. The appeal of flying to New York for a meeting, and scooting back to London to sleep in your own bed that night may well appeal to many. With others companies like Aerion Supersonic and Virgin Galactic currently focusing on smaller passenger aircraft (up to 16) and the more affluent business traveller, it leaves room for the price per unit to come down substantially into the future for BOOM.
In Boom’s case, the company will target overseas flights. These are projected to carry about 65 million business class passengers by 2026 over 500 routes. This sort of capacity could require between 1,000 and 2,000 planes. Boom believes it can capture a majority of this market.
It is anticipated that based on Boom’s modelling, a seat on one of these winged rockets should not set you back much more than the cost of todays Business Class seat, and then hopefully become closer to that of an average Economy seat not too many years later.
“I’ll know we’ve succeeded when high-speed flight is considered normal.”Blake Scholl
FOUNDER & CEO, BOOM SUPERSONIC
The prospect of supersonic flight being accessible to people on our planet could indeed promote positivity in human connection, culture and prosperous business endeavours. There needs to be consideration on how this all can become a reality with keeping the welfare of the planet, sustainability and society in mind. Boom do look like they are taking all these aspects into consideration in their aim to bring back supersonic travel.
Images courtesy of BOOM