On Frequency - Week 3: Supersonic Travel - The future or destined to fail?

On Frequency - Week 3

Question: Supersonic Travel - The future or destined to fail?


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More about the week’s topic

Virgin Group, Japan Airlines, United, American and many more have already placed orders for the Boom Overture. Starting in 2029, the aircraft will fly up to 88 passengers from London to New York in 3.5 hours at Mach 1.7. The aircraft will fly entirely on sustainable aviation fuel and be built from composite material.

More information can be found Here:

What’s your take on what’s likely to be the first supersonic passenger jet since Concorde? Do you see a future for this concept, or do you think it’s destined to fail, like Concorde, and other forms of propulsion and transportation will win instead?

Share your opinions and views, respond to those of other community members, exchange ideas, teach new things, learn new things and discuss.

Let’s Discuss!

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At least it is not as disruptive. I think I would be cool because it is hard to sleep on long flights sometimes…

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It already is and United is taking the first leap

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I honestly have no idea as of now. Boom has overshot many of their target dates, have no engine, and are struggling to find a willing manufacturer to make said engine. Overture having 4 engines is also a questionable decision and design choice. Airlines retired their 4 engine jets due to lack of efficiency, cost, and age in favor of newer twin jets. Why would airlines retire their 4 engine jets due to operation cost, only to buy another jet that likely costs double the amount to operate, let alone buy? Doesn’t make much sense. Then again, I don’t know much about how all this stuff works so I might sound a bit foolish 😵‍💫

Also, why would the Virgin Group opt to purchase Overtures? I thought they were planning on making their own aircraft to compete against boom? Am I missing something here?

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Marc, I’m not going to lie, I don’t see a good future for supersonic boom because of the similarities to the Concorde and I don’t know if they’ve considered the possibility for a tail strike like the Concorde had a higher likelihood other than other aircraft, I feel like they need to kinda hold off supersonic travel until they have a way to fix the long tail.

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You have a very fair point I am not going to lie.

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Too many if’s in this topic to make a call.

I believe supersonic can be viable, but not the future IF:

  • airlines obtain government approval to overfly nations
  • airlines obtain popular approval to overfly nations
  • Boom delivers on planned noise abatement levels upon departure/arrival
  • Boom finds a reliable partner to build non-afterburning supersonic engines
  • the international business market continues to grow
  • Boom doesn’t go out of business before the Overture debuts
  • SAFs actually work and provide similar specific energy as current jet fuel
  • SAFs can be produced in numbers that don’t make them commodity products
  • the Overture doesn’t end up having some bad luck, both supersonic passenger airliners failing would probably seal the deal forever

Concorde did make money for both BA and AF. It just did so in a way disruptive to anyone else and also had some bad strokes of luck. Overture could make money on business-oriented routes in the same way.

However, with its fuel consumption of unproven SAFs, I don’t think it’s ever likely to break into the mainstream. 80 passengers max on a supersonic airliner is just too little to supplement anything except straight business and first class.

15 Likes

Those airliners (747, A380, even DC10 and stuff) relied on efficiency because they were mass-market carriers. Overture is an entirely different ballgame. Prices are going to be expensive, so the plane can be more inefficient. The people in its target market pay for the convenience of going NY to London in 3 hours, they couldn’t care less about an extra $500 tacked onto the price to pay for fuel for the thing. Also I suspect getting to Mach 1.7 on two, non-afterburning turbofans is probably not something that is possible without atrociously difficult engine development.

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I thought I heard somewhere that Boom aimed to have their Overture be a mass market aircraft… If that’s the case, why would airlines bother with Overture if its more costly and inefficient than say an A350 or 777? I do get the whole cutting flight time in half thing, but is it really worth spending more when the money can go into other things??

I’m going to go off on a tangent here. I feel like Concorde made a little more sense because it existed when airlines still used aircraft with 3-4 engines. At the time, 3-4 engine aircraft were seen as efficient. But when Airbus stepped in with their A300, twin jets were quickly seen as the new design choice. Twin jets killed the 747, A340, Dc-10, Md-11, and probably Concorde as well.

Am I even making sense? I feel like I’m rambling nonsense tbh 😅

2 Likes

In my opinion, this would be a great idea since short times on long distances is reliable for many people!

First of all, the Concorde did fail but I think that is because it was kind of a rushed process. Everyone was waiting for this and the people at Concorde were very stressed out and stopped thinking correctly.

Second of all, the workers at BOOM are indeed trying to change the world, people still cannot wait wait, but they do start to understand what happened to Concorde in the 90’s. Everyone was so rushed back then since it was new technology! Now it is still surprising, but not that surprising, so I think that this time we, and the people at BOOM can do it.

Third of all, most people do not like long-haul flights that take a lot of time, for example New York to London, which for some people, are having trouble sleeping on these flights or are afraid of flying etc etc. I think BOOM is trying to change this, which I think is really cool, and I cannot wait for this massive milestone to happen!

In conclusion, supersonic planes are the future.

bro i can write an essay on the IFC but not at school bruh

5 Likes

The entirety of this statement rests with SAFs, if they can be made cheaply then it might have a shot? Honestly I doubt it though, 80,000 pounds of thrust is not a small amount even feeding with Jet-A, that’s like 40% more than a 737-MAX while carrying half the passengers.

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BOOM

Driven past the facility a few times. Pretty full parking lots so it must mean folks are hard at work. Would sure be a shame it things fell apart with all of these major companies backing them.

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Knowing boom and how dedicated they are, I’m sure they are. I wish them the best of luck. This is quite the challenge to take on.

Isn’t boom aiming to have it operate on 100% SAF? Aren’t we only at…idk…4% or something?

Not sure where we’re at but yeah, not close yet. I suppose we have time to figure it out but that’s why I said there are way too many ifs in my original response.

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Unlike other long-haul aircraft which typically carry 200-300+ passengers, the Boom overture can only carry up to 88 so I’m not sure if this is gonna be an issue tho if we are going to have an all-out supersonic aircraft in the future…

Just cause an airline is ordering these doesn’t mean anything. Just look at the Aerion AS2, another supersonic “wonder” of the 21st century which had on its orderbooks two of the largest fractional private jet airlines, Netjets and Flexjet, but still went bankrupt after not receiving enough capital having not developed a flying aircraft.

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I see this as a simple economics problem. Supersonic travel, in it’s current form, is not very efficient compared to other options. That’s the simple matter of wave drag. Sure, things can be done to decrease drag, but it will only get you so far. Supersonic travel will be for the rich, as most everyone else will stick to the high-bypass turbofan engines, buying tickets that cost a fifth of the price. Unless some revelation is discovered in adaptive cycle engines, supersonic travel will never be the norm.

I will say that this does not mean the end of Boom. I would bet that Overture will never see production. However, the research that they’ve done in the field of aerodynamics is invaluable.

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i think that if they where to make the planes quieter then it could take off in a boom, supersonic travel would be super popular if it wasnt soloud and iff the boom wasnt so loud.

I think with the latest news of BOOM not managing to get the engines they need just seals its faith, i adore Concorde and its definitely my favourite aircraft i just dont think BOOM or any other will be able to reopen the Supersonic industry feasably.