Boom Supersonic is looking to revive the age of supersonic flight. It has been twenty years since the final grounding of the Concorde fleet. With Concordes out of the picture, the promise of accessible supersonic commercial flights went with it. There are a multitude of reasons for this particular method of travel falling out of favor. Recent years have seen a revival of sorts in interest and development surrounding supersonic flight. As such, startups like Boom Supersonic have captured the attention of customers and airlines alike.
So how fast can the Boom Supersonic Overture really travel? Let’s take a closer look at the facts, the hard data, and some of the mission statements provided. With these in hand, it should be easy to see where the direction of supersonic air travel is headed.
What is Supersonic Flight?
Supersonic flight is a method of travel where the aircraft is exceeding the speed of sound. This speed is usually measured in something called Machs. Mach 1 is the equivalent of one times the speed of sound, and subsequent increases see it multiplying the actual hard speed of an aircraft. Now, supersonic flight has long been the domain of military craft. There are certain restrictions on supersonic flight which make it less of a reality for soaring over residences and populated areas. Military vehicles aren’t privy to these restrictions, especially in combat zones. For airlines, however, this is a constant consideration.
A Brief Overview of Boom Supersonic
Boom Supersonic is a Denver-based aviation startup. They aren’t quite as established as some of the mainstays in aviation, like Boeing or Airbus. That aside, their initial concept aircraft, the Overture, looks to bring accessible supersonic air travel to the masses. Airlines have already expressed great interest in the Boom Supersonic Overture, with dozens of planes already sold prior to production.
Unfortunately, no production vehicles are in the hands of airlines yet; however, Boom has a prototype aircraft, the XB-1, built to demonstrate the technologies for safe and efficient supersonic flight. Test flights are scheduled to begin in 2023. Additionally, Boom Supersonic announced in January of last year that it was establishing a 400,000-square-foot production facility in North Carolina. This should serve as the final step towards actually seeing if Boom Supersonic can prove its mettle in the aviation industry.
Boom Supersonic Flight Times to Paris
The concept of the Overture has a nominal land airspeed of Mach 1.7 or 1,304 miles per hour. With this in mind, the nominal land airspeed for the average commercial aircraft is around 600 miles per hour. This is quite fast, and far faster than going by boat, but it pales in comparison to going almost 2 times the speed of sound.
Currently, a conservative estimate of how long it takes to travel from New York City to Paris is around 7.5 hours. Going with the known data points surrounding the Boom Supersonic Overture, it can be inferred that this travel time will get chopped down mightily. The actual distance from New York City to Paris is 3,635 miles. With the given land airspeed of 1,304 miles per hour, the Overture would arrive in Paris in just under three hours. Now, this doesn’t account for the boarding process, take-off procedures, and the many other factors that go into an average flight. An estimate of three and a half hours would be right on the money, accounting for these variables. Now, before you start planning trips, there are a few other things to consider.
Boom Supersonic’s Expected Production Output
At the time of this writing, the Overture is a mere concept. No production aircraft have actually been delivered. Further, no test flights have actually been conducted. Aviation is a notoriously hard, and ridiculously expensive endeavor. Research and development cycles for a single aircraft can run into millions of dollars, and that is in the best-case scenario. Boom Supersonic is in a rather interesting position, as they’ve already captured the attention of major airlines. Payment for undelivered planes has already been issued.
With this in mind, Boom is planning on the first test flights of the Overture occurring in 2026. If all goes well with preliminary trial flights, then an expected delivery date of 2029 will see the planes in use by the public. This is certainly a few years out, but developing a wholly new aircraft for supersonic flight is quite the endeavor.
A Closer Look at the Overture
The Overture is the primary target for production from Boom Supersonic, and as such as received the lion’s share of focus from the press. Here are some key things that are known about the Overture:
|Cruising Speed||Mach 1.7|
|Passenger Capacity||65 to 80 people|
|Cruising altitude||60,000 feet|
The Overture itself represents a next-generation take on supersonic flight. Previously, the Concorde was the only viable means of commercial supersonic flight. Concorde tickets were expensive, and travel locales were limited due to restrictions and regulations meant to hamper the damage and noise of a sonic boom. Boom Supersonic promises the Overture is both more fuel efficient and quieter. The aircraft is also capable of maintaining safe cruising speeds over residential airspace, giving it some degree of flexibility. All said, the Overture looks great on paper. Time will tell if the first production models really live up to the stated specs Boom Supersonic has given.
Breaking the Limits with Boom Supersonic
Commercial aircraft still remain one of the fastest and safest ways to travel. It is still relatively early in the revival of supersonic flight to celebrate its achievement. If companies like Boom Supersonic are ready to deliver an affordable and accessible means of supersonic flight, then that only poses great benefits to the general public. If the cost of a supersonic flight is only slightly higher than a conventional flight, then it could very well revolutionize the industry at large. Couple that with projects in the works from other competitors, and the future of flight looks astounding.
As previously stated, it is far too early to tell. Currently, what is known about Boom Supersonic is all on paper and press releases. As such, there aren’t any hard numbers to pull from real-world performance. Hopefully, test flights begin sooner rather than later, so more can be gathered about how supersonic aircraft are going to change the landscape of commercial flight. Until then, it is a rather grueling period of waiting ahead of everyone.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Boom Supersonic 2022.