If you are planning a trip to the Land of The Rising Sun, Japan Airlines and Boom Supersonic are putting in the effort to bring you to Tokyo at supersonic speeds. The Overture airliner from Boom Supersonic could travel from San Francisco to Tokyo in just 6 hours.
It sounds impossible, but Boom Supersonic are sure that their supersonic airliners will be completing a six-hour journey from San Francisco to Tokyo Haneda Airport as early as 2029. In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about the ‘son of Concorde’ and the next generation of air travel.
By 2029, a 6-Hour Flight Between San Francisco and Tokyo Could Be a Reality
Completing the 8,270.72 km (5,139.19) mile journey between San Francisco and Tokyo currently takes over 11 hours. But if Boom Supersonic is to be believed, we’ll see that flight time slashed in half within the decade. This startup aerospace company is currently developing a novel supersonic commercial airliner called the Overture that can sustain Mach 1.7 speeds. This is a game changer that brings not only Tokyo but over 500 other destinations closer to travelers.
Understandably Japan Airlines is taking the Boom Supersonic’s plans for the Overture very seriously. The airline company was one of Boom Supersonic’s earliest investors, sinking $10 million into the venture in 2017. Japan Airlines’ strategic partnership with Boom Supersonic has not only provided finance but valuable knowledge and expertise that is helping to progress the Overture project towards its maiden flight.
6-Hour Flights to Tokyo Mark The Return of Supersonic Passenger Travel
It’s been 20 years since the sonic boom of the legendary Concorde airplane was last heard. The original supersonic commercial airline was sadly retired in 2003, due to its eye-watering operational costs and the tragic Air France disaster in 2000 where all passengers and crew lost their lives.
The aerospace industry let supersonic air travel languish for many years because the technology simply wasn’t profitable. But Boom Supersonic intends to establish a new era of supersonic air travel that is not only commercially viable but sustainable too. Japan Airlines, along with other industry giants like Virgin and American Airlines have also dared to dream, placing orders for Boom Supersonic’s plane, which is currently only in development.
Boom Supersonic Company Profile
|Headquarters||Denver, Colorado, United States|
|Founding/ Founders||2014 by Blake Scholl, Josh Krall, and Joe Wilding|
|Current CEO||Blake Scholl|
|Funding||$147.5M raised so far|
|Number of employees||150|
Boom Technology was founded in 2014, using the trading name Boom Supersonic. This aviation sector start-up, led by Blake Scholl, has a reputation for being fast-moving. Its efforts to build a new supersonic business jet have led to notable successes in raising capital, with over $150 million raised so far. At least $100 million was raised in its most recent investment round (Series B) which ended in January 2019.
And this company means business. It has already built the XB-1 (2019), a supersonic demonstrator aircraft, and has just broken ground (Q1 2023) on a 400,000-square-foot super factory in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Blake Scholl Is The Mind Behind Boom Supersonic
Boom Supersonic is the brainchild of tech whizz Blake Scholl, a software developer and aviation enthusiast who wanted to do something big after selling his tech business back in 2014. It’s hard to believe that Blake is a high school dropout, studying computer science at college after Carnegie Mellon University gave him a chance.
He is committed to building what he describes as the ‘son of Concorde’, providing business class supersonic air travel to a new generation of passengers. The progress has been phenomenal, considering that Blake founded this startup in the basement of his home. His investors also feel the same way about the return of supersonic passenger flights, with many of them desirous to see the return of a new ‘Concorde’.
Boom Overture: a New Airliner For the Supersonic Age
The Overture is a world-first sustainable supersonic airliner that can deliver flights to and from Tokyo at Mach 1.7 speeds. This is a completely new type of airplane, the first of its class, and has been designed to advance aviation technology in every area of its design.
This airplane has been in the making since 2014. Plans for mass production of the jet took a massive leap forward with the production of the XB-1, Boom Supersonic’s demonstrator aircraft, which is about ⅓ the size of the Overture. All being well, the Overture is expected to take to the skies within the decade.
Proposed Boom Overture Specification
Here are the currently proposed specifications of the Boom Overture:
|Nose to tail length of the Overture||201 feet (61 meters)|
|Overture wingspan||60 feet (18 meters)|
|Weight of the Boom Overture||170,000 pounds (77,111 kilograms)|
|Maximum cruise altitude of the Overture||60,000 feet|
|Current balanced field length (using current specifications of the Overture)||10,000 feet (3,048 meters)|
|Cruise speed of the Boom Overture||2,083 km/h / MACH 1.7|
|Flight range of the Boom Overture||4,250+ nautical miles (7,870 kilometers)|
|Maximum passenger capacity of the Boom Overture||88 passengers|
|Boom Overture fuel type||Sustainable Aviation Fuel (100%)|
Overture makes supersonic passenger flight a reality
The Overture has been designed and engineered to deliver sustainable air travel at supersonic speeds. The airliner’s composite material design features a delta wing and gull-wing configuration for maximum pilot visibility. It is powered by 4, custom-designed and built, non-afterburning turbofan jet engines.
These outstanding features make the Overture capable of speeds that are at least double those of a conventional commercial airliner over water and up to 20% faster on land, where supersonic flight is usually restricted.
With a range of up to 4,250 nmi (7,870 km), the Overture is expected to deliver supersonic business-class air travel for more than 500 routes worldwide, many more than Concorde ever could. Up to 88 passengers will be comfortably accommodated in premium seats with the finest service.
The Symphony Engine is Overture’s Novel Turbofan Engine
The biggest hurdle for Boom Supersonic is the development of a jet engine that can drive supersonic flight while being sustainable and compliant with industry noise and emissions standards.
Boom Supersonic has stepped up to the challenge with the development of its Engine which the company announced at the end of 2022 with the release of a conceptual render. The Symphony engine is being developed by leveraging existing aerospace technology, using the expertise of aviation companies that include:
- Kratos – Florida Turbine Technologies
- GE Additive
This novel engine will be unique because it runs on pure sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) using biofuel sources and sustainable feedstock. This is vitally important to the sustainability of this aircraft as supersonic aircraft burn up to 9 times more fuel per seat kilometer than a subsonic airliner. Key features of this novel design include:
- An axisymmetric supersonic inlet
- a high-pressure turbine that is passive-cooling
- a low-noise exhaust nozzle technology
Other features and specifications of this engine include:
- Delivery of at least 35,000 (160 kN) pounds of thrust is required for takeoff.
- A turbine that is passively cooled.
- A noise-minimizing single-stage fan.
- 25% more time on the wing when compared to a conventional aviation engine.
Boom Supersonic’s Timeline
With such a complex project and so many contingencies, the timings have repeatedly changed for various stages of the Overture project. However, landmark progress was made in 2019 when the XB-1 demonstrator aircraft was built, but in-flight testing is still awaited and is due to commence in 2023.
Construction of the Boom Supersonic manufacturing facility at the International Airport in Greensboro, NC is already underway. Beyond 2023, the company is looking ahead to starting production of the Overture airliner in 2024, going carbon neutral, and achieving the first flight of the airliner in 2027. All being well that flight from San Francisco to Tokyo will be scheduled to depart in 2029.
Japan Airlines is an early adopter of new aviation engineering and technology that is going to transform air travel in the coming decades.
For years, the return of passenger flights at supersonic speeds sounded outlandish. Boom Supersonic has not only demonstrated that it is possible, but it has also started the countdown to commercial supersonic flights.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Boom Supersonic 2022.