Is supersonic air travel back? United Airlines indeed thinks so! The airline is ordering 15 supersonic jets from Boom Supersonic, a supersonic airplane manufacturing startup. With an option to increase that order to 50 jets, the deal hinges on Boom’s ability to successfully deliver the planes, pass regulatory approvals and comply with sustainability requirements. Each plane will cost around $200 million, similar to the price of a Boeing 787. Boom claims its supersonic jets will eventually be able to travel from New York to London — typically a seven-hour flight — in just 3.5 hours, or Los Angeles to Sydney — typically a 15-hour trip — in six hours and 45 minutes.

Boom has raised $241.1 million to date despite never having built or flown a full-scale supersonic jet before. It plans to release its Overture plane in 2025, start test flights in the following year, and carry passengers by 2029. A scaled-down version of the Overture, Boom’s XB-1 demonstrator aircraft will take its inaugural flight sometime in 2021. Japan Airlines, one of Boom’s investors, is also a potential client.

Previously On...: If successful, Boom will lead the first commercial supersonic flights since the grounding of the Concorde jet in 2003. Constructed by the French aerospace company Aérospatiale and British Aircraft Corporation, the Concorde was retired after 27 years of service due to high fuel costs, safety issues, and lack of demand. Similarly, the Soviet-era Tupolev Tu-144 supersonic passenger airliner also was retired in 1999 after being in operation since 1968.

Share this post