Airline company Boom Supersonic has unveiled the latest design of its Overture aircraft, which they hope could become the world’s first economically and environmentally sustainable supersonic airliner. If their project does get off the ground, it has the potential to fly from New York to London in just three and a half hours.
The latest look of the Overture plane was unveiled at Farnborough International Airshow in the UK earlier this week. The plane is yet to be built, but the team says their revamped design is the culmination of millions of hours of simulated software designs, five wind tunnel tests, and dozens of evaluations.
Overture plans to carry 65 to 80 passengers at twice the speed of today’s commercial airliners. Through its four engines and highly aerodynamic design, the plane could, in theory, fly at Mach 1.7 over water and just under Mach 1 over land.
This isn’t far from the average cruise speed of Mach 2.02 achieved by Concorde, the supersonic passenger plane that flew commercial for the first time in 1976 until it was discontinued in October 2003. Ultimately, Concorde was pulled because of high costs, low demand, and a number of high-profile accidents.
However, Boom believes it's time to bring back the era of supersonic passenger flights, but with an environmentally aware twist.
Unlike Concorde, the Overture aircraft has been designed with the environment in mind. Boom says the whole project is designed to produce net-zero carbon and the planes will run on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuels.
"Aviation has not seen a giant leap in decades," Blake Scholl, found and CEO of Boom, said in a statement. "Overture is revolutionary in its design, and it will fundamentally change how we think about distance."
“Time is a strategic advantage in high consequence scenarios, from emergency evacuations to disaster response,” added Scholl. “This collaboration between Boom and Northrop Grumman unlocks the potential for Overture to provide the US and our allies with an unmatched high-speed capability when and where it’s most needed.”
Earlier this year, Boom managed to secure $60 million of funding through a three-year strategic partnership with the US Air Force.
Now comes the hard part: scaling up and building the thing. For the next step, Boom will be putting together the “iron bird,” a skeletal plane-shaped structure made out of steel, some 60 meters (200 feet) long and 30 meters (100 feet) wide, that will be used for further testing and trialing.
All being well, they hope to start aircraft production in 2024 at the Overture Superfactory in Greensboro, North Carolina.