American Airlines has put money down on the return of supersonic commercial air travel
The world’s largest airline placed a nonrefundable deposit for 20 Overture supersonic aircraft from manufacturer Boom Supersonic. Boom plans to complete its final design of the Overture aircraft by 2025, and is targeting 2029 for the first flights carrying passengers.
“Looking to the future, supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver for our customers,” American’s chief financial officer Derek Kerr said in a statement.
Neither American Airlines nor Boom revealed the amount of the deposit laid down by the airline, but the airline is not alone; in 2021, United Airlines placed a deposit for 15 of the supersonic airliners. At that time, United compared the likely cost of the Overture aircraft to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which ranges from $248m (£205m) to $338m.
Boom claims the Overture aircraft will carry up to 80 passengers over a range of 4,250 nautical miles at a cruising speed of Mach 1.7, or 1.7 times the speed of sound. The last supersonic airliner to see regular service, the Concorde, flew at Mach 2.04, and could make the Atlantic crossing from London to New York in just under three hours.
Like the Concorde, the Overture will fly over water, the sonic booms of aircraft traveling faster than sound being too disruptive for flight over occupied areas. Potential routes include Miami to London in around five hours, and Los Angeles to Honolulu in three hours.
But unlike the Concorde, which flew from 1976 through 2003, Boom hopes flights using the Overture will be affordable, with Boom CEO Blake Scholl telling ABC News tickets may cost $4,000 to $5,000. He had previously said his company aims to one day fly people anywhere in the world for $100 a ticket.
Concorde tickets would run to around $13,000 in 2021 dollars.
The Overture is not yet a physical aircraft, and remains a concept on the drawing board, but Boom has produced a small, two-seat test aircraft called the XB-1 that could begin test flights in late 2022.