Colorado-based Boom hasn’t built a working version of the Overture, though last October it revealed a smaller prototype called the XB-1 which is due to make its maiden flight later this year.
Overture is designed to carry up to 75 passengers and fly at Mach-1.7 speeds. That’s just over 1,300 miles per hour, or twice the speed of the fastest aircraft currently.
This means that the introduction will be able to fly from, say, Newark to London in three and a half hours, from Newark to Frankfurt in four hours, and from San Francisco to Tokyo in six hours, in some cases reducing the usual flight time in half .
Given the impact of air travel on the environment, Boom aims to become the first carbon-neutral large commercial aircraft, optimized to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel.
“United continues on its path to building a more innovative and sustainable airline, and advances in technology make it more viable to include supersonic aircraft,” United CEO Scott Kirby said as part of this week’s announcement. “Boom’s vision for the future of commercial aviation, combined with the industry’s strongest road network in the world, will give business and leisure travelers access to a great flying experience.”
Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic, said the two companies share a common goal “to unite the world safely and sustainably.” Scholl added: “At speeds twice as fast, United passengers will experience all the benefits of living in person, from deeper and more productive work relationships to longer, more relaxing vacations to faraway destinations.”
And United Airlines isn’t the first major airline to show interest in Boom’s technology, with Japan Airlines and the UK’s Virgin Group already signing deals for a total of 30 aircraft offered.
With this latest deal, Boom is gearing toward launching its first supersonic passenger service since Concorde’s last commercial flight in 2003, but the itineraries for next-generation supersonic aircraft will likely be limited. This is because many countries prohibit aircraft from flying faster than the speed of sound in order to prevent disruptive sonic booms. In other words, the introduction may be limited to coastal airports, where flights head across the ocean rather than inland.
Ticket prices may be out of reach for many travelers as well. While airlines will have the final say on the matter, Baum says she expects airlines will be able to offer fares in line with business class – much more expensive than seats on buses.