In recent years, a company based in Colorado by the name Boom Technology has dedicated itself to avail supersonic travel to the airline industry. The company is designing a supersonic airplane for use by commercial airlines. The supersonic jet, called the Boom Overture, is meant to utilize new technology to yield a final product design capable of supersonic flights.
Aviation enthusiasts, commercial airlines, the military, and those who fly regularly are watching the company closely and following all the developments concerning Boom supersonic’s Overture. This article looks at the various issues concerning the Boom Overture, its design, challenges faced, and opportunities in the market.
The design of the aircraft is crucial to its success in attaining supersonic transportation. The company released a highly aerodynamic design that can make it a successful supersonic plane. The aircraft has a conventional tail that will make it easily maneuverable even at high speed.
Additionally, it has a sinuous twist on the wings. The sinuous twist ensures the aircraft can generate better lift and have less drag while flying. Besides, the fuselage has a slightly larger cross-section at the front compared to the back. Therefore, the aerodynamic design makes the Boom Overture well-fitted for supersonic operations.
The Boom Overture program has shown interest in using a medium-bypass turbofan engine since it does not require afterburners. The aircraft will have four engines, producing enough power necessary for the required speed.
To add, the selected engine design is crucial because afterburners were responsible for the high noise levels of the other supersonic aircraft ever made, the Concorde. Having medium-bypass turbofan engines will reduce the noise levels produced by the Overture.
What is more, the engine design has positive implications for fuel consumption. The bypass will ensure that the aircraft consumes less fuel during flight. The Boom Overture program is geared towards promoting sustainability. According to the Boom team, the Overture supersonic plane will only use sustainable aviation fuel to run the engines.
Therefore, the company has unique selling points to make a business case. Given the increase in pollution and climate change occurring across the globe, having an aircraft that relies one hundred percent on sustainable aviation fuel is a welcome idea.
Speed is a crucial factor in supersonic flight. The Boom Overture will have a cruise speed of Mach 1.7, which is almost twice the speed of sound. With such a high speed, the aircraft can fly faster than Concord, making it an exciting prospect for commercial aircraft.
The aircraft meeting this speed target will make it attract several airlines as it will reduce the time spent in flight, improving capacity to complete more flights.
Other design specifications of the aircraft include a cruising altitude of 60,000 feet, a range of 4250 nmi, and the proposed plane will carry around 80 passengers. The design specifications make the Boom Overture an interesting prospect in the aviation industry.
The larger fuselage will ensure that passengers get enough comfort. The high speed will ensure that passengers can travel faster and reach their destinations in less time because of supersonic speeds.
Moreover, the proposed engine design is well suited for minimizing noise and pollution levels, promoting sustainability. On that account, the airline industry stands to benefit a lot should the company manage to produce this aircraft.
Should Boom Overture supersonic aircraft become a reality, the company will have a market ready to purchase the aircraft. The Boom team said the first flight of the flight testing period is expected around 2026.
Airlines like Japan Airlines and American Airlines have already made orders for the aircraft. Boom Technologies has received 70 orders for the Boom supersonic Overture. Accordingly, there is an existing market for the company to exploit.
Such an aircraft would give the two airlines have dominance in the airline industry. Therefore, other airlines are likely to make orders upon complete production.
Additionally, apart from appealing to an airline hoping to be a supersonic airline, the company can market the aircraft to the military. At the moment, the company has no intention of making a combat aircraft.
However, it is open to making a variant of the Boom Overture to support fast transport and logistics among military forces. The military would appreciate having an aircraft that can transport personnel and equipment at almost double the speed of current conventional jets. So, the supersonic jet would appeal to military forces. As such, the company has another potential market to explore.
Partnership with Rolls-Royce
The partnership between Boom Technologies and Rolls-Royce is crucial to understand when discussing the Boom Overture. The partnership was crucial to the company meeting its target of rolling out the jet by 2026 for testing and for passenger service by 2029.
The partnership aimed to help Boom with the clean sheet design of the engine. As an engine manufacturer, Rolls-Royce would help Boom come up with an engine design that can support supersonic flight.
Clearly, the partnership with Rolls-Royce was crucial to the success of the new aircraft design. However, in September this year, Roll-Royce pulled out of the partnership. The manufacturer stated that it was no longer interested in the concept and would dedicate its efforts to meeting the current needs of its current customers.
The ended partnership has affected the potential of Boom Technologies to deliver, given how crucial an engine is to flight, leave alone a supersonic flight.
Cause for skepticism
Despite the promise of customers, an exciting design, and the potential to redefine air travel, the Boom Overture has attracted skepticism from various people. This section highlights some of the skepticism towards the aircraft
Some people have found the timelines set by Boom Technologies unrealistic. For instance, the team is working towards making the plane available for flying passengers by 2029. The timeline is highly optimistic, given the intricacy of designing and manufacturing an aircraft.
For instance, the design of the plane was completely overhauled in July of this year, changing it from three initial engines to four engines. In addition, the aircraft’s top speed was reduced from Mach 2.1 to Mach 1.7.
The major design changes are bound to change the timelines for releasing the aircraft for passenger use. New designs of conventional aircraft usually face delays getting into the market.
For that reason, it is likely that the Overture production will also face delays, especially considering the design overhaul early this year. Therefore, some see the timelines set by the company as highly optimistic.
Additionally, the Boom team has faced skepticism because of the engine design challenges. As a supersonic aircraft, the Boom Overture requires an engine capable of supersonic flight. However, the team has faced several challenges in this regard.
Foremost, the partnership with Rolls-Royce ended before the company had a final production design to meet its needs. Secondly, the company has not managed to partner with another engine manufacturer until now. Engine producers like General Electric and Pratt and Whitney have not seemed eager to get into a partnership with Boom Technologies.
ICAO has also dealt the company a blow. The organization questioned the capability of sustainable aviation fuel, which is still very rare, to meet the intensive energy demands of a supersonic jet. It’s about time for Boom technologies to find a solution to the engine woes of the Boom supersonic aircraft is to be a reality in the future.
Need for supersonic travel
The Boom Overture has also been criticized by those who question whether there is a need for supersonic travel at this time or in the future. The New York to London route is a prime example to analyze supersonic trips.
Heathrow has a curfew, implying that Boom Overture flight from New York to London would be limited to daytime travel. Also, the airplane will not have the comfort of beds because it is designed for fast travel. Therefore, the only time the flight would make sense is when one needs to fly from New York to London in less than five hours within the day.
Most passengers may opt for conventional airlines despite having a supersonic airline. For instance, a passenger who books business class can have access to Wi-Fi, good food, and a bed.
So, overnight travel may seem more appealing than supersonic travel during the day to beat the curfew, especially if the cost of supersonic airlines is high. Following this discussion, it is hard to justify the need for supersonic type of traveling at this time.
The other cause for skepticism is the funds necessary to make the Boom Overture a reality. The company needs approximately 10 billion USD to develop the supersonic jet. However, there are limited funds since even airlines that have made orders for the jet are waiting to see if the minimum performance requirements are met before making payments.
The Boom supersonic Overture is undoubtedly a wonderful candidate to challenge regular air travel we know today. To fly supersonic Boom crafts might not only mean reaching your destination faster, but also reducing environmental pollution, given that the aircraft will be powered by a type of alternative fuel.
And while the Overture project might have had some setbacks, Blake Scholl, CEO of Boom, remains optimistic that the new supersonic airliner can exceed specifications and expectations.
Will you be booking your supersonic ticket on an Overture in the future? Let us know in the comments.
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Jet pilot @NASA
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