Is Supersonic Commercial Flight Back?

United Airline’s potential supersonic aircraft, courtesy of United Airlines

United Airlines says it has plans to offer supersonic service before the year 2030 through a commercial agreement with aerospace company Boom Supersonic.

Once they are operational and approved for service, the agreement states that United will buy 15 of Boom’s Overture aircraft, which are capable of flying at 1.7 times the speed of sound. 

This would significantly shorten the time it takes to travel to overseas destinations and harken back to the heady days of ‘blink and you’re there’ trans-Atlantic flights on the legendary Concorde, which British Airways and Air France stopped using nearly twenty years ago in 2003. 

According to United, a flight between Newark and London will take only about three and a half hours, and – moving beyond trans-Atlantic service – the journey from San Francisco to Tokyo would take just six hours.

Boom is expecting that the aircraft will be ready to fly by 2026, and be able to carry passengers by 2029. 

United’s agreement includes the option for 35 additional aircraft on top of the 15, but that ultimately depends on Boom meeting United’s requirements for safety, operating and sustainability. United says it will work with Boom to ensure those requirements are met.

The aircraft are looking to be better for the environment as well. Boom is designing them to run fully on sustainable aviation fuel.

Boom is one of several companies working to restore supersonic commercial air service and is working with the US Air Force for government use of its aircraft. The company also has many well-known investors such as American Express Ventures, Emerson Collective, Bessemer Venture Partners and Prime Movers Lab.

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