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Are we close to the return of commercial supersonic flights?

Elijah Durojaiye 05/12/2024
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Boom Supersonic Overture

Image: Boom Supersonic

Usually, technology continually advances, yet commercial supersonic travel hasn't been a reality since the last Concord flight in 2003. While travelers in the 80s and 90s enjoyed commercial supersonic flights, it's difficult to come to terms with the fact that no such flight exists today.

Boom Supersonic Overture

Image: Boom Supersonic

Overture will use similar technology found in the XB-1. It's technology that's expected to ensure efficient supersonic flight, taking advantage of digitally optimized aerodynamics, advanced avionics, the use of carbon fiber composites, and an advanced supersonic propulsion system.

Running the test out of Mojave Air & Space Port, the same airport used for the first test flights for iconic aircrafts including the X-15, the Bell X-1, and the legendary SR-71 Blackbird, Boom reported success with all goals being met without incident. Could this be the beginning of the return of supersonic commercial travel? The people at Boom certainly believe this is the case. Everyone craving supersonic flight should be optimistic and eagerly anticipate what comes next.

But what's so exciting about supersonic travel? More than anything else, it's the reduced flight time. Crossing the Atlantic in significantly less time has to be a boon to vacationers and business travelers alike. Even the most enthusiastic air traveler must appreciate spending significantly less time in the air on long-distance flights.

Boom Supersonic Overture

Image: Boom Supersonic

While Boeing seems to have pushed aviation safety backward in recent history, it's refreshing to see that Boom Supersonic is placing safety first in every step of the development process. Overture is often referred to as an aircraft that's 'optimized for speed, safety and sustainability'.

Key features being developed include a vision system enhanced by augmented reality, clever use of computational fluid dynamics to ensure safe takeoff and landing, and generous use of carbon fiber composites to increase strength while facilitating weight reduction.

Overture is expected to have a capacity of 64-80 passengers, run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel, and travel at Mach 1.7 (close to two times the speed of current subsonic airliners), ensuring a New York to London flight time of less than four hours. The quoted speed doesn't match the concord's Mach 2.02 speed, but it is faster than Lockheed Martin's X-59 Quesst experimental aircraft, which is expected to travel at Mach 1.42.

Boom Supersonic Overture

Image: Boom Supersonic

It's not unreasonable to start imagining one sitting in an Overture aircraft sipping on a glass of Riesling from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, knowing that the flight will be a short one (relatively speaking).

While traveling in decent comfort is an expectation we all have, the joy of safe arrival and getting on with the vacation or business at the destination is the whole point of the journey. The shorter that journey is, the better for us all.


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