Boom! American Airlines to buy supersonic jets amid clamour for ultra-fast travel
merican Airlines is planning to buy up to 20 supersonic planes from aircraft manufacturer Boom Supersonic, the two companies have revealed.
Nearly 20 years since the supersonic Concorde was last commercially available, aircraft makers and governments around the world are again developing such planes, which can halve the flight time between London and New York.
The Colorado-based Boom has secured 130 orders, including options, said the company spokeswoman Aubrey Scanlan.
She declined to reveal the value of the American deal, which also gives the airline the option to purchase an additional 40 Overture aircraft – a model that has the touted ability to fly up to 1.7 times the speed of sound, that is being readied for market by 2029, reports the Washington Post.
Boom’s founder and chief executive Blake Scholl said that each Overture will sell for $200 million, although it is not unusual for airlines to pay below the list price if they purchase multiple aircraft, reports the Washington Post.
Concorde, the Franco-British supersonic airliner, had a maximum speed of just over Mach 2, last made a commercial flight in 2003, and had the capacity to fly from London to New York in about three hours.
The aircraft was a symbol of luxury, and it provided access to a super-exclusive lounge and offering high-end wine with Angus beef, and lobster during flights.
Britain’s Princess Margaret and former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger were among the famous passengers. However, it was forced out of business after years of unsustainable fuel costs, coupled with repeated complaints from people living near airports about the sonic boom noise generated by supersonic jets.
Alongside this, the crash in July 2000 of an Air France Concorde flight that was headed to New York from Paris left 113 people dead, and hurt the image of supersonic aircraft. However, a Paris court ruled that the crash was caused by a piece of metal left on the runway after falling from a Continental jet. Investigators said this caused a tyre-burst in the Concorde, which in turn ruptured a fuel tank.
Speaking to CBS News last month, journalist Jon Ostrower said: “I think you cannot ignore the obstacles that will be on the path to getting there.”
He also suggested that Boom would need to invest at least $15 billion in order to develop the supersonic jet.
At the time, Boom said in response that it could build the Overture at roughly half the price tag that Ostrower had indicated, reports the Washington Post.
Boom has also said that the Overtures will be lighter, and more fuel-efficient that Concorde, and that better software will enable the new jets to be more aerodynamic.
Keeping the noise down is also expected to be a challenge, while another barrier will be the cost of sustainable aviation fuel, which is derived from organic matter, reports the Washington Post.
Supersonic jets also burn up to seven to nine times more fuel compared with subsonic planes, the Washington Post reports.