Concorde, the airliner that changed the way we flew… for about 30 years. Concorde’s demise was really to do with economics, planes that could fly slower burned less fuel and she was getting old, 27 years old in fact. A year earlier the A340 had been introduced with Virgin Atlantic and even with its 4 engines she managed to burn fuel at only 3.49L per 100km, compare that to the Concorde 17.9L per 100km and it’s clear that Concorde was done. But what if she wasn’t?
Fast forward 17 years, the year is 2020 and many airlines have retired the now inefficient A340 while orders and deliveries for Boeing’s 787 and Airbus’s A350 are coming in thick and fast. But there’s one company who are still living in 2003, or are they? Boom Supersonic was founded as a startup in 2014 and have been working on supersonic aircraft ever since and their flagship plane, well it’s something to be in awe about. Boom’s Overture will have no low sonic boom, a top speed of Mach 2.2, fuel efficiency that matches modern-day airliners seat per km ratio and seat prices that match business class on subsonic aircraft. Overture could theoretically fly from Sydney to Los Angeles in 6hrs and 45mins, almost halving the current subsonic flight time while it could cross the pond much like Concorde did in 3hrs and 15mins. Boom expects to have built 1,000 of the supersonic jets by 2035 and plans to have it flying commercially by the middle of the decade. But as much as this sounds amazing and perfect there are a few issues.
The aircraft’s engines which are being developed by Rolls Royce have not been invented yet and the English company is struggling to stay alive after major loses. Another issue is that the range isn’t great and by not great I mean that Sydney to Los Angeles flight would require a stop, be more subject to turbulence with its smaller airframe and only be about 3.5 hours quicker due to the revised 8hr 30min flight time and sure I’m not going to say no to a Hawaiian stopover but when if I’m travelling for business I’d honestly rather just sleep on a non-stop then be woken up due to a stopover in Hawaii.
So what now for the company? Well, they are testing a miniature version of the plane called XB-1 later in the year to test the concept before primarily focusing on Overture, the planned market entry date is between 2025 and 2027 and by then it’s likely that the 787 won’t be new or advanced, I’d imagine it would be getting retired. If Overture wants to succeed it must be as efficient and profitable as airliners that won’t exist for half a decade, it also needs to not make the same mistakes are Concorde because at the end of the day most people would rather an aircraft that is available to the average joe then a gimmick.
What do you think?
Is this the future? Maybe, just maybe image credit