By 2029 you’ll be able to travel between LAX and Beijing Capital International Airport in less time than a US transcontinental flight. Aerospace startup Boom Supersonic intends to reduce the 10,059-kilometer flight to just 5 hours. Their supersonic airliner is already in development! In this article, we’ll learn more about Boom Supersonic’s efforts to bring back supersonic air travel. Plus a Chinese competitor that they need to watch out for!
Supersonic Flights to Beijing Are Due to Take Off in 2029!
Boom Supersonic’s Overture airliner will be able to transport up to 88 passengers for its supersonic flight from LA to Beijing. The Overture can serve more than 500 world city destinations with supersonic travel. This unique airliner delivers flight times that are around half of a conventional airliner’s.
Boom Supersonic’s airplane is still in development and hasn’t yet taken to the skies. But, the aviation industry is taking the Overture very seriously. American Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic have already put in big orders for this plane. For the first time in decades, there appears to be a serious contender for civilian supersonic aviation and an heir to Concorde’s fallen crown. Let’s take a closer look at the plane that is being called “the son of Concorde.”
All About the Overture, Boom Supersonic’s Airliner
The Overture is a proposed supersonic airliner. Boom Supersonic, an aerospace startup is currently developing it. Boom Supersonic, a trading name of Boom Technology was founded in 2014. The company’s aim is to build the world’s fastest, safest, and most sustainable passenger air travel. If it succeeds, Boom Supersonic will introduce supersonic flight to a new generation. Here are the essentials of the Boom Overture:
Need-to-Know Specs for the Overture
|Length (nose to tail) of the Boom Supersonic Overture||61 m (201 ft)|
|Wingspan of the Boom Supersonic Overture||18 m (60 ft)|
|Max weight of the Boom Supersonic Overture||77,111 kg (170,000 lbs)|
|Engines of the Boom Supersonic Overture||4 Symphony engines|
|Max speed of the Boom Supersonic Overture||2,083 km/h or 1,304 mph (Mach 1.7)|
|Max altitude of the Boom Supersonic Overture||60,000 ft|
|Balanced field length of the Boom Supersonic Overture||Up to 3,048 m (10,000 ft)|
|Fuel of the Boom Supersonic Overture||Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) exclusively|
|Passenger capacity of the Boom Supersonic Overture||65 to 88 passengers|
Boom Supersonic completed the concept drawings and models of the Overture in 2016. The company has designed the Overture to have minimal air resistance. This optimizes its fuel economy, which is essential for supersonic travel. Aerodynamic features of the Overture include:
- A compound-modified delta planform
- Gullwing design
- Contoured fuselage
- High-specification composite materials used in construction
Symphony Engines for the Boom Overture
Four specially-designed medium-bypass turbofan engines known as Symphony engines propel the Overture. The Symphony engines are currently in development. Boom Supersonic is relying on these engines to deliver the 35,000 pounds (160 kN) of thrust the Overture needs to fly.
Boom Supersonic will build the Symphony engine by modifying existing aerospace engine technology. They believe that they can reduce noise and maximize the fuel efficiency of the engine. The challenge is huge, but Boom Supersonic has industry experts onboard. Its development partners include GE Additive, Kratos, Rolls Royce, and StandardAero.
Sustainability is also important for the Symphony engine. Supersonic air travel burns more fuel per kilometer than subsonic, conventional flights. To reduce the environmental impact, Boom Supersonic will use Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). SAF comes from environmentally sustainable sources like biofuel. This helps to keep the Overture carbon neutral.
The Overture Even Has a Working Prototype
In 2020, Boom Supersonic completed a ⅓ scale demonstrator airplane capable of Mach 2 speeds. The XB-1 is the first independently-developed supersonic jet in the world and a major leap forward in the development of the Overture. Boom Supersonic and Virgin Galactic partnered to develop this two-seater, trijet plane. The XB-1 is due to start test flights in 2023.
Boom Supersonic Has a Major Chinese Competitor
Boom Supersonic is making progress in its plan to connect LA to Beijing in 5 hours. However, a major Chinese competitor is on the rise that intends to travel between Beijing and New York in just one hour! Space Transportation is a Chinese Aerospace firm. It is currently developing a rocket propulsion combination aircraft. Their new supersonic plane will be capable of space and terrestrial flight at speeds of up to 4184.294 kilometers per hour (2,600 miles per hour).
According to reports, the new plane can operate as a supersonic business jet. It is mounted on twin rockets that take off vertically. Once in the air, the aircraft can detach from the rockets to fly at supersonic speeds through suborbital space.
Space Transportation believes that its plane would have lower operating costs than a space rocket. It achieves supersonic speeds far above the terrestrial zone where sonic booms would be audible. Ground tests for this new plane are due to begin in 2023. Space transportation has the ambition of completing the first manned flights in 2025.
Other Competitors for a Supersonic LA to Beijing Flight Include…
The space transportation sector is a big challenger to Boom Supersonic. They have the technology and engineering to quickly pivot to supersonic air flight.
The Chinese plane developed by Space Transportation is like Elon Musk’s proposed “Earth to Earth” vessel that is being developed by SpaceX.
Virgin Galactic also believes that its supersonic spacecraft will become a supersonic commuter. Right now Richard Branson’s team is working with Boom Supersonic to get the Overture airliner off the ground.
There are also other companies with supersonic planes in advanced stages of development. But none of the planes and private jets are as large as the Overture. Boom Supersonic’s competitors include Venus Aerospace, Exosonic, NASA, and Lockheed Martin.
It seems that the world is ready for the return of supersonic air travel. A 5-hour flight from LA to Beijing would transform intercontinental aviation. But this aviation technology is still in development. A lot has to happen before Boom Supersonic, or one of its competitors, makes it a reality.