United Airlines to sign purchase agreement with Boom Supersonic

United Airlines will purchase 15 ‘Overture’ airliners from Boom Technology Inc, once Overture meets United’s demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements. They will have an option of 35 more aircraft. Scheduled to carry passengers in 2029, the net-zero carbon aircraft will fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The projected schedule is: rollout 2025; first flight 2026; and passenger travel 2029.

It is unlikely that many readers, including this author, will be among the early passengers.

Concorde was the first supersonic passenger-carrying commercial airplane (or supersonic transport (SST)), built jointly by aircraft manufacturers in Great Britain and France. Concorde made its first transatlantic crossing on 26 September 1973 and it inaugurated the world’s first scheduled supersonic passenger service on 21 January 1976, with British Airways initially flying the aircraft from London to Bahrain and Air France flying it from Paris to Rio de Janeiro. Both airlines added regular services to Washington DC in May 1976 and to New York City in November 1977. Concorde operations were finally ceased by Air France in May 2003 and by British Airways in October 2003. Only 14 of the aircraft actually went into service.

The main reasons for the failure of Concorde were that it was not economical and the sonic boom it produced was such a nuisance to people on the ground that it could only fly over water. The first and last generation of Concorde reached old age before anyone had managed to solve these problems, so nobody unveiled a shiny new model to replace it.

Here are some basic things to be aware of regarding the Boom Overture concept:
  • The plane will be 199 ft long (as a point of comparison, a Boeing 737-800 is 130 ft and a Boeing 777-300 is 242 ft long).
  • The plane will be able to cruise at an altitude of up to 60,000 ft, at Mach 1.7 (as a point of comparison, a Boeing 777 can fly at up to 43,000 ft and at up to Mach 0.84).
  • The plane will have a range of just under 4900 miles.
  • The plane will be able to seat 65-88 passengers, in an all-business class configuration.
  • The plane will be 100% carbon neutral.
  • The expected price will be $200 million (approximately £143 million) per aircraft.

Boom Technology Inc claims that Overture will not generate a sonic boom over land when cruising at subsonic speeds. Its passengers will not even notice breaking through the ‘sound barrier’, which will be inaudible and uneventful.

Inevitably, non-destructive testing (NDT) will play a huge part in the evaluation of materials, construction integrity and continuous post-flight examination. A first examination of early NDT applications for integrity determinations is given below.

The first step towards wing bend tests on XB-1, Boom’s supersonic demonstrator, has successfully wrapped up in the hangar. Using portable ultrasound equipment, the team can look inside XB-1’s wing structure, capture images and check for defects. Following the wing bend tests scheduled in early 2020, these ‘before’ images will be compared to ‘after’ images to look for anomalies, foreign object debris and non-visible damage below the surface. Ultrasonic inspection offers the ability to acoustically ‘see through’ both traditional aluminium laminates and carbon fibre composites. It has been used in aircraft manufacturing for years.

NDT is primarily focused on validating that a product is built correctly as per the specification. It validates that there are no unacceptable internal defects. However, NDT does not address the actual strength or capability of a structure. In the case of XB-1’s wings, it creates a complete inspection map that will enable the detection of damage below the surface after the wing bend tests are complete.

The above information has been extracted from various press releases by United Airlines and Boom Supersonic, including a news release from Boom Supersonic dated 4 February 2020.

Comments by members

This forum post has no comments, be the first to leave a comment.

Submit your comment

You need to log in to submit a Comment. Please click here to log in or register.

<< Back