American Airlines agrees to purchase 20 Boom Supersonic jets

However, exactly how big the effort is is still unclear. American, which said it was putting down a deposit for up to 20 supersonic jets with an option to buy up to 20 more, declined to share the financial terms of the deal, which was announced Tuesday.

However, everything depends on whether the company that plans to build the jets, Boom Supersonic, can deliver on its lofty promises. Experts have questioned whether supersonic jets are likely to return.

Boom is developing a jet called the Overture that the company says will be able to carry 65 to 80 passengers at nearly twice the speed of sound.

But the jet is still in the early stages of development. Boom recently unveiled a “refined”[ads1]; version of the aircraft, which it said has completed some wind tunnel tests. However, it has yet to conduct a test flight, and the first production vehicles are not expected to roll off the line until 2025, according to a press release.

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The overture is reminiscent of the Concorde, the ultra-fast – and extremely expensive – jet that carried people across the Atlantic for as much as $10,000 a seat. Concorde in particular was decommissioned in 2003 because the economics simply didn’t work. The fuel-guzzling jet was too noisy to fly over land because its high speeds would generate deafening sonic booms, relegating it to trips over seas, such as the popular London to New York City route.
Experts have said that jets like the Concorde are unlikely to return, in part because those jets will need to find enough customers willing to go above the premium price. But that hasn’t stopped Boom, American and United Airlines — which announced plans to buy up to 15 of Boom’s jets last year — from putting money and marketing muscle behind plans to revive supersonic flight.

Boom says its jets could be operational by 2029, and while they won’t be able to reach top speeds over land, they can still travel as much as 20% faster than current commercial jets, the company claims.

– Flying from Miami to London in just under five hours and Los Angeles to Honolulu in three hours are among the many possibilities, claims Boom.

But foreign regulators and the US Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates commercial airlines, must approve the jets first. And it is not clear when or if that will happen.

After the financial failure of Concorde, both airlines and aircraft manufacturers have generally concentrated on greater efficiency, not speed.

Boeing, for example, dropped its plans for a near-supersonic jet, the Sonic Cruiser, in the early 2000s and shifted focus to developing a light, fuel-efficient jumbo jet, the 787 Dreamliner. (The 787 has its own problems, of course.)
However, the US government has shown interest in reviving supersonic jets. The FAA states on its website that it is currently working on establishing new operating rules for such aircraft, including permitted noise levels over land. And NASA has spent money developing a “quiet” supersonic jet, called the X-59, in hopes of passing that technology on to the commercial sector. But even the first prototype has yet to take flight, and the first test is not expected until later this year.

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