United Airlines have now agreed to buy 15 supersonic planes that are capable of flying at speeds of Mach 1.7 (1,300mph) twice as fast as modern planes fly, United Airlines aims to bring back supersonic travel 18 years after Concorde’s final flight. The supersonic deal includes an option to purchase an additional 35 planes from the Denver based manufacturer Boom Supersonic, once the initial order will be finalised and all the aircrafts meet demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements the further 35 planes will be purchased.
A prototype is set to make its first journey through the skies later in 2021 or in early 2022, trial flights are scheduled to begin in 2026, United hope in 2029 passengers will be carried on commercial flights. The ‘Overture’ will carry around 65-88 seats which will initially be priced at business class fares. United Airlines have pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and the ‘Overture’ will be the first large supersonic airliner commercial aircraft to use 100% sustainable aviation fuel. The ‘Overture’ could slash flying times in half with a London to Newark in New Jersey taking around three and a half hours, the normal flight time would be around seven hours.
Concorde was originally the fastest plane and it also set the world record for the fastest flight by a commercial airline between New York and London in 2 hours and 52 minutes and 59 seconds in 1996. The airline was retired from service in 2003 with British Airways and Air France blaming a downturn in passenger numbers and rising maintenance costs. In the year 2000 an Air France Concorde flight 4590 crashed into a hotel shortly after its take off from Paris, killing 109 people on board and a further four people on the ground. The final Concorde took its last and final flight in 2003.
Mike Leskinen, United Vice President of corporate development and a former aerospace analyst, said: “The Boom jet will be 75% cheaper to operate than the Concorde- thanks to advancements in engines and lighter fuselages.”
The Airline’s Chief Executive, Scott Kirby, said: “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.”
Blake Scholl, the Chief Executive of Boom Supersonic, said: “The world’s first purchase agreement for net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step towards our mission to create a more accessible world.”
The Civil Aviation Authority in the UK and US Federal Aviation Administration must grant approval for the return of supersonic passenger planes to the skies. Noise pollution campaigners and residents living under the supersonic flight paths could set themselves in opposition for the plans.
Virgin Galactic revealed designs for a supersonic passenger plane with a ability to fly three times the speed of sound in August , 2020. The Delta wing jet has a top speed of 2,300mph (3,700kmh) and could fly to New York in less than two hours- but would only be able to carry between nine and nineteen passengers.