It’s hard to imagine but Shanghai Pudong International Airport could be just 7 hours away from LAX. Sounds crazy? Boom Supersonic, an aviation company, intends to cut the current fourteen-hour flight between LA and Shanghai in half. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this maverick company and the Chinese competitor that’s hot on its heels!
A 7-Hour Flight Time for Shanghai Within the Decade!
Boom Supersonic is developing a supersonic airliner that can make the 10,408-kilometer journey between LA and Shanghai in 7 hours. This could completely transform the way these two world cities are connected. Boom Supersonic is developing its supersonic airplane and already has a working prototype. The company hopes to offer supersonic air travel to a new generation with the first flights taking off in 2029.
Its proposed airliner, called the Overture, will be able to transport more than 80 passengers at supersonic speeds. Boom Supersonic intends to serve more than 500 international destinations with the Overture. The Overture uses supersonic aviation technology to deliver flight times that are around half a regular plane’s.
This plane is hotly anticipated but it hasn’t yet taken to the skies. Despite only having a demonstrator airplane, aviation industries are lining up to order these planes. American Airlines has ordered as many as 40 Overtures for bringing its fleet into the coming supersonic era. Japan Airlines has also placed its own order and is contributing its expertise to the project.
The Overture Brings Supersonic Flight to a New Generation
The Overture, also known as “the son of Concorde,” is Boom Supersonic’s proposed airliner. Blake Scholl founded Boom Supersonic in 2014. This startup has the aim of building the first commercial supersonic plane since Concorde retired in 2003. If it succeeds, the Overture will be the world’s fastest, safest, and most sustainable passenger plane. Here’s a closer look at the Overture:
Proposed Specs for the Boom Supersonic Overture
|Nose-to-tail length||61 m (201 ft)|
|Wingspan||18 m (60 ft)|
|Max weight||77,111 kg (170,000 lbs)|
|Engines||4 Symphony engines|
|Max speed||2,083 km/h (MACH 1.7)|
|Max altitude||60,000 ft|
|Balanced field length||Up to 3,048 m (10,000 ft)|
|Fuel||Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) exclusively|
|Passenger capacity||65 to 88 passengers|
The Overture concept drawings and wooden models were completed in 2016. The supersonic plane has an aerodynamic design, with a contoured fuselage, boosting fuel economy. Key design features of the Overture include its compound-modified delta platform and Gullwing. Boom Supersonic will build the Overture using high-specification composite materials used in construction.
The Symphony Engine Will Power the Overture’s Supersonic Flight
To achieve safe, sustainable supersonic flight, the Overture needs a powerful engine. Boom Supersonic is developing a custom engine called the Symphony engine. This medium-bypass turbofan engine will have the capability to deliver supersonic flight. The Overture needs its 4 engines to generate more than 35,000 pounds (160 kN) of thrust to achieve its exemplary flight times.
Rather than designing a completely new engine, Boom Supersonic will use existing technology. The company will change some of the most advanced supersonic engine designs to reduce noise and pollution. Experts from Boom Supersonic also have the challenge of developing an engine that can burn sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Sustainability is essential to the commercial adoption of the Overture. Supersonic air travel consumes more fuel than subsonic commercial air travel. Because of this, there is fierce environmental opposition to its return. Boom Supersonic is keen to show its green credentials by ensuring the Overture uses SAF exclusively. The company intends to be carbon neutral by 2025.
Boom Supersonic is working with some of the world’s leading aerospace companies to deliver the Symphony engine. StandardAero, GE Additive, and Krators are partnering in this project.
Boom Supersonic Has Achieved a Major Milestone in Building the Overture
Boom Supersonic has progressed further in realizing its supersonic goal than many of its competitors. The aviation industry takes this company seriously because it has built a trijet working prototype.
The XB-1 is a 1/3-scale demonstrator plane that can achieve Mach 2 speeds. Boom Supersonic achieved the funding to build the demonstrator through Series A and Series B funding rounds. The company has developed the XB-1 in conjunction with Virgin Galactic and will commence test flights later this year.
The Chinese Are Also Entering the Supersonic Flight Race
Boom Supersonic is intent on bringing LA and Shanghai closer together through supersonic air travel. But the Chinese aerospace company Space Transportation may beat them to the finish line.
Space Transportation is a Chinese space travel company that is developing a hybrid space/supersonic plane. Space Transportation claims that its rocket propulsion design will be able to travel between Beijing and New York in an hour! With a cruising speed of 4184.294 kilometers per hour, this would be the world’s fastest commercial aircraft.
The Space Transportation plane uses suborbital space to achieve its flight time. The plane is mounted on twin rockets and takes off vertically. When it enters sub-orbital space, it detaches from the rockets to fly at supersonic speed to its destination. Because the aircraft is flying above the earth it does not cause the noise pollution that other supersonic aircraft are associated with. This video explains more:
Boom Supersonic Has Plenty of Competition for Its LA to Shanghai Flight
The space industry is a potential competitor in the supersonic air travel sector. The space transportation industry has the technology to diversify into supersonic air travel. Companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have already explored supersonic aviation. For now, Virgin Galactic is partnering with Boom Supersonic in developing the Overture.
Aviation companies like Lockheed Martin Corporation, Exosonic, and Spike Supersonic also have supersonic aircraft in various stages of development.
Boom Supersonic is intent on halving the flight times for the world’s most renowned destinations. The development of the Overture indicates that supersonic air flight is likely to be possible within the decade. However, competition is stiff with companies from around the world keen to become the first to deliver a commercial supersonic aircraft.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Boom Supersonic 2022.