American Airlines has agreed to purchase 20 supersonic Overture planes from Boom Supersonic, both companies announced Tuesday. That’s five more than the 15 Overture jets that United Airlines ordered last year. Overture’s order book, including purchases and options from Japan Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, the U.S. Air Force and other customers, stands at 130 aircraft.
Not bad for a jet that has yet to become a reality. Boom expects to roll out the first Overture model in 2025 at its new plant in North Carolina, with the jet entering commercial service by the tail end of this decade.
If all goes according to schedule, the first paying passengers will break the sound barrier some 26 years after the last Concorde flight from New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to London’s Heathrow Airport in October 2003.
Overture is being designed to carry 65 to 80 passengers at Mach 1.7 over water — or twice the speed of today’s fastest commercial aircraft — with a range of 4,250 nautical miles.
The cruising altitude of 60,000 feet will be higher than most other commercial air traffic and, like the Concorde, the jet will break the sound barrier only over oceans. A sonic boom — the huge thunderclap-like sound created when a supersonic aircraft breaks the sound barrier — can be extremely loud and startling, which led to a ban of routine supersonic flight overland.
Overture is designed to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). In May, Boom announced a 10-year agreement with Climeworks, a leader in carbon dioxide removal through direct air capture (DAC). As part of this agreement, Climeworks will remove a part of Boom’s residual CO2 emissions from the atmosphere and permanently store it underground, helping Boom achieve net-zero carbon by 2025, according to the company.
Supersonic jet travel’s great advantage, of course, is speed. “Overture is also being designed to fly more than 600 routes around the world in as little as half the time,” according to a statement from Boom. “Flying from Miami to London in just under five hours and Los Angeles to Honolulu in three hours are among the many possibilities.”
Boom CEO Blake Scholl has speculated that passengers would pay between $4,000 and $5,000 to fly from New York to London in three-and-a-half hours. Pricey for the average leisure traveler, perhaps, but Boom and major airlines see a big market for business travelers.
“Looking to the future, supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver for our customers,” said Derek Kerr, American’s Chief Financial Officer.