(CNN) — Almost 20 years have passed since the Concorde made its last flight.
While various companies have since embarked on a resurgence in supersonic travel, we have yet to see how this materializes.
However, Colorado-based startup Boom Supersonic is taking big steps forward in its quest to make supersonic flight a reality again.
Renders of the aircraft, which has been in development for several years, were unveiled this week during a press conference at the Farnborough Air Show, the UK’s aviation trade event.
The updated design features not only an additional engine, but also a contoured fuselage and gull-wings.
Rendering of a redesigned Overture supersonic aircraft by Boom Supersonic.
According to Cathy Savitt, President and Chief Commercial Officer of Boom Supersonic, the advanced design is the result of approximately 26 million hours of software simulations, five wind tunnel tests and 51 design iterations.
“We really had to take the time to learn, repeat, walk our walk,” Boom Chalet’s Savitt tells CNN Travel at the Farnborough Airshow.
“There is nothing better than having a real aircraft to learn from, in addition to simulators and hours of computation, which I think led to an outstanding breakthrough and a remarkable aircraft.”
The aircraft, scheduled to launch in 2024, will fly over water at Mach 1.7 with a range of 4,250 nautical miles and a capacity of 65 to 80 passengers, the Boom team said.
Meanwhile, Japan Airlines invested $10 million in Boom back in 2017 and has the option to purchase up to 20 aircraft.
In addition, the aviation startup recently announced a partnership with US military technology company Northrop Grumman to develop a military variant of the Overture.
Zero carbon aircraft
According to the Boom team, the Overture will fly over water at Mach 1.7 and have a range of 4,250 nautical miles.
Concerns about noise, along with its environmental impact, played a significant role in Concorde’s demise, and Boom is working hard to make this supersonic aircraft both sustainable and quieter.
“Our vision has always been for the Overture to be the first clean-sheet aircraft that has been designed and optimized to run on 100% sustainable jet fuel,” Savitt explains.
“And today, compared to the time of Concorde, we can use carbon composite materials throughout our fuselage, on our wings and on the vertical tail, which allows us to be much more aerodynamic and much more efficient. This helps reduce drag, which wastes fuel, and also makes the aircraft much more fuel efficient.”
United has already pledged to run its Overture fleet on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The introduction of a fourth engine into the redesigned aircraft will help significantly reduce noise, Savitt said, and the Overture will feature the world’s first automated noise reduction system.
“We really focused on making our takeoffs and landings as quiet, if not quieter, than any other long-haul airliner departing from any airport,” she explains. “And this is what we have achieved.
“We are not going to fly supersonic over land, we will fly supersonic over water. So this “boom”, so to speak, goes over the open sea.
“But we are still flying at Mach 0.94. above the ground, and it was very important for us to be useful to the residents of airports by really fighting noise.”
United will be the first American airline to operate an Overture aircraft.
Efforts to increase the speed of passenger aircraft have gained momentum in recent years.
Earlier this year, aircraft manufacturer Bombardier confirmed that its Global 7500 test machine broke the sound barrier during a demonstration flight last May, reaching speeds of over Mach 1.015.
Back in 2020, aviation startup Aerion unveiled plans to build a commercial Mach 4+ Aerion AS3 airliner, but the Florida-based company collapsed the following year.
“There hasn’t been a giant leap in aviation in decades,” Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl said in a statement this month, before announcing that Overture will “fundamentally change the way we think about distance.”
Boom now has over 600 different routes planned for Overture around the world.
“We’re really focused on bringing people together,” says Savitt. “Ultimately, we want the Overture to be not only the fastest, but also the most stable and the most affordable car for everyone who flies supersonic.
“In a world where you want to speed up this human connection, it shouldn’t be that only a few can do it.”
Stressing that “it depends on the airlines how they price it,” Sawitt estimates that an Overture flight will initially cost about 25% more than business class and about 75% less than Concorde, which took about 12,000 dollars for round trip. in the nineties.
In addition to speed, safety and sustainability, which are called its “fundamental principles”, the company pays great attention to the quality of customer service.
Passengers will be able to switch between different digital experiences in flight and adjust their windows accordingly while traveling.
Various flight modes will be available, including a performance mode for those who want to focus on work, a rest mode for passengers who want to get some sleep, and an exploration mode for those who want to pay close attention to their route while flying. air.
A revolution in air travel?
Rendering of the Overture supersonic airliner in United Airlines livery.
Savitt says Boom met with thousands of potential passengers to better understand their needs, and they found that the desire for sustained speed was significantly higher.
“They want a new flight experience,” says Savitt. “They don’t want to spend twice as much time on a flight, especially after the pandemic.”
While there is still a long way to go before we see the aircraft begin passenger service, testing of the XB1 has already begun and the Boom team is “working to get it airborne.”
“Now we are very close,” adds Savitt.
So could supersonic really be the future of travel, or is it just a pipe dream that will never come true?
There is still no clear answer to this question per se, but the successes achieved by Boom, as well as the achievement of the high speed of the Bombardier Global 7500 flight test vehicle and the involvement of NASA, are certainly exciting and encouraging developments.
“Ultimately, we would like to achieve a paradigm shift where supersonic becomes really the way people want to fly,” she says.
“It’s sustainable. It’s fast. This changes travel as you can spend more time connecting at your destination.
“We expect that in 10-15 years it will be the first choice of travel because it is very important.”
Best Image Credit: Boom Supersonic