After the dream of the Concorde went up in smoke at the turn of the century, United Airlines has now done the unthinkable – it is now trying to bring back supersonic travel.
United Airlines has announced a deal with Boom Supersonic to add supersonic aircraft to its fleet.
This comes alongside what the airline has called a cooperative sustainability initiative. United Airlines also says the move will facilitate a leap forward in returning supersonic speeds to aviation, claiming flights could speed from New York to London in 3.5 hours (with current technology this is a 7 hour trip).
Watch Concord take off and reach supersonic speed.
United will purchase 15 of Boom’s ‘Overture’ airliners, once Overture meets United’s demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements, the airline announced last week, with an option for an extra 35 aircraft.
“The companies will work together on meeting those requirements before delivery,” United Airlines wrote in a media release. “Once operational, Overture is expected to be the first large commercial aircraft to be net-zero carbon from day one, optimized to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). It is slated to roll out in 2025, fly in 2026 and expected to carry passengers by 2029. United and Boom will also work together to accelerate production of greater supplies of SAF.”
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“United continues on its trajectory to build a more innovative, sustainable airline and today’s advancements in technology are making it more viable for that to include supersonic planes. Boom’s vision for the future of commercial aviation, combined with the industry’s most robust route network in the world, will give business and leisure travellers access to a stellar flight experience,” United CEO Scott Kirby said. “Our mission has always been about connecting people and now working with Boom, we’ll be able to do that on an even greater scale.”
Able to fly at Mach 1.7 – twice the speed of today’s fastest airliners – Overture can 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.
Overture will also be designed with features like in-seat entertainment, plentiful personal space, and contactless technology.
“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. “United and Boom share a common purpose—to unite the world safely and sustainably. At speeds twice as fast, United passengers will experience all the advantages of life lived in person, from deeper, more productive business relationships to longer, more relaxing vacations to far-off destinations.”
Underneath Boom Supersonic’s announcement of the news on Twitter, various social media users expressed their thoughts. The main concerns raised? The price of tickets and the historical problems with supersonic travel.
I bet the ticket will begin from $500 economic – $1500 a premium
— Sergio Esteban-Fandino (@Selopezfa) June 3, 2021
“Will never happen the price for this will be incredible and limited to the very rich,” one user wrote. “I call Bullshit on vapourware.”
Another tweeted: “I bet the ticket will begin from $500 economic – $1500 a premium.”
Others asked questions like: “What’ll you do about the noise? Genuine question. There’s a reason Concorde was restricted to the likes of Transatlantic routes, and several reasons as to why it ended up as a niche aircraft – and noise was a factor in both.”
Suddenly because it’s American, the sonic boom and take off noise problem will “go away ” !
— FoRSS (@DavdotFo) June 3, 2021
Yet others talked about the past: “Hmmm the return of supersonic travel you mean? Looks a lot like the one that was designed in the 60’s that was retired in 2003.”
“Looks like Concorde does because engineering. The new technology is going to be in the engines primarily and materials – the same places where the big gains in subsonic planes happened the last 50 years.”
All other issues aside: flying from New York to London in 3 or so hours is tantalising.