United Airlines on Thursday announced a commercial agreement with Denver-based aerospace company Boom Supersonic to add aircraft to its global fleet, as well as a cooperative sustainability initiative—a move that facilitates a leap forward in returning supersonic speeds to aviation.
Under the terms of the agreement, United will purchase 15 of Boom’s Overture airliners, once Overture meets United’s safety, operating and sustainability requirements, with an option for an additional 35 aircraft. The companies will work together on meeting those requirements before delivery, United said. Once operational, Overture is expected to be the first large commercial aircraft to be net-zero carbon from Day 1, optimized to run on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). It is slated to roll out in 2025, fly in 2026 and expected to carry passengers by 2029. United and Boom will also work together to accelerate production of greater supplies of SAF.
Capable of flying at speeds of Mach 1.7—twice the speed of today’s fastest airliners—Overture can connect more than 500 destinations in nearly half the time. Among the many potential routes for United are Newark to London in just three and a half hours, Newark to Frankfurt in four hours and San Francisco to Tokyo in just six hours. Overture will also be designed with in-seat entertainment screens, ample personal space and contactless technology. The aircraft would hold between 65 and 88 passengers and would have a cruising altitude of 60,000 feet (high enough to see the darkness of space above and the curvature of the earth). It has a range of 4,888 miles.
“United continues on its trajectory to build a more innovative, sustainable airline and today’s advancements in technology are making it more viable for that to include supersonic planes,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a press statement.