United Airlines on Thursday announced a commercial deal to buy ultra-fast jets from Denver-based aerospace company Boom Supersonic. The agreement could revive supersonic passenger travel, which was wound down in 2003 with the retirement of the Anglo-French Concorde.
Under the agreement, United Airlines will purchase 15 ‘Overture’ airliners, a supersonic aircraft with 65 to 88 seats, from Boom Supersonic once the aircraft meets safety, operating and sustainability requirements. The Chicago-based American airline will also have an option to buy an additional 35 aircraft.
Overture airliners are slated to roll out in 2025, fly in 2026 and expected to carry passengers by 2029. The supersonic jet is expected to be the first large commercial aircraft to be net-zero carbon from day one. “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, said in a statement.
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Overture airliners will be capable of flying at speeds of Mach 1.7, almost twice the speed of today’s fastest airliners, and will be able to 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,” United Airlines said.
Commercial supersonic jets were prohibited from flying over land routes due to its noisy sonic boom” when it burst through the sound barrier. The high cost of meeting environmental restrictions on sonic booms was one of the reasons Concorde, flown by Air France and British Airways, was retired in 2003 after 27 years of service. Overture airliners face hurdles from regulators like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which must first give the approval to fly at supersonic speeds over land.