United Airlines is hedging its bets on the return of supersonic commercial flights, locking in a deal with Boom Supersonic for up to 50 new aircraft.
United will purchase 15 of Boom’s ‘Overture’ airliners – which are configured with between 65 and 88 premium seats – once Overture meets UA’s safety, operating and sustainability requirements. The airline has a further 35 options for additional aircraft. The companies will work in unison on meeting those requirements before delivery.
Cruising at 60,000-feet, the Overture is capable of flying between Los Angeles and Sydney in 8.5 hours, trimming 6 hours of the current journey time.
Once operational, Overture is expected to be the first large commercial aircraft to be net-zero carbon from day one, optimised to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). It is slated to roll out in 2025, fly in 2026 and expected to carry passengers by 2029. United and Boom will also work together to accelerate production of greater supplies of SAF.
“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,” United CEO Scott Kirby said.
“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 travellers access to a stellar flight experience,” Kirby said.
“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.”
Capable of flying at speeds of Mach 1.7 – twice the speed of today’s fastest airliners – Overture can connect more than 500 destinations in nearly half the time. Among the many future potential routes for United are Newark to London in just three and a half hours, Newark to Frankfurt in four hours and San Francisco to Tokyo in just six hours.
Overture will also be designed with features such as in-seat entertainment screens, ample personal space, and contactless technology. Working with Boom is another component of United’s strategy to invest in innovative technologies that will build a more sustainable future of air travel.
“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,” said Blake Scholl, Boom Supersonic founder and CEO. “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.”
Boom Supersonic’s order book for the Overture, including purchases and options with Japan Airlines, stands at 70 aircraft. XB-1, a demonstrator aircraft, rolled out in 2020, and its net-zero carbon flight test program is underway.