Frequently asked questions

Flying Supersonic

Why supersonic flight?

The world is better off when families can spend more time together, businesses have more opportunities to succeed in our global economy, and world leaders can foster greater understanding through face-to-face meetings. By leveraging the transformative power of supersonic air travel and travel speeds twice as fast, Boom is removing the barriers to experiencing the planet (time, money and hassle) and making the world dramatically more accessible.

What will the onboard experience be like?

We’re designing the end-to-end passenger experience to provide a tranquil and stress-free journey from the moment you step aboard Overture. Imagine a large personal window, direct aisle access, and dedicated underseat storage.

With seat dimensions comparable to short-haul first class, we’re implementing design improvements to optimize the passenger experience. On flights over 4–6 hours, airlines may also offer a first-class, lie-flat experience.

What does it feel like to fly supersonically?

Supersonic aircraft fly higher than existing airliners, cruising at up to 60,000 feet. At this altitude, you fly above most of the turbulence, allowing a smoother ride than on subsonic aircraft. Looking out your window, you will see the darkness of space above you and the curvature of the Earth below.

Passengers won't even notice breaking through the "sound barrier," which is inaudible and uneventful. On Concorde, announcements were made and champagne was served to celebrate the moment, which otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

How much will tickets cost?

Final ticket prices will be set by airlines, but we’re designing Overture so that airlines will be able to offer fares similar to today's long-haul, business-class travel. Our ultimate vision is to reduce operating costs to make supersonic flight even more affordable and accessible.

Is it safe to fly supersonically?

Flying is by far the safest way to travel, and supersonic commercial airplanes will be certified to the same safety standards as today's subsonic airliners, making them as safe as any other passenger aircraft.

Are there health concerns associated with supersonic flight?

A common misconception is that supersonic flights carry elevated radiation exposure for passengers. Overture will fly higher and faster than existing aircraft, but because it will spend less time in the thinner atmosphere, there will be no more radiation exposure than on subsonic flights of similar distances.

On the other hand, sitting for hours on a long-haul subsonic flight comes with its own health risks—when flights take half as long, passengers will spend less time sitting still.

Overture

What are the differences between XB-1 and Overture?

XB-1 is the demonstrator airplane for Overture and a critical step toward mainstream supersonic travel. XB-1 will prove key technologies for safe, efficient supersonic travel.

Overture is Boom’s Mach-2.2 commercial airliner and will be the fastest airliner ever created and history’s most efficient supersonic jet.

How many seats will Overture have?

A major problem with Concorde was its size. The airplane had more seats than could be filled at the required prices, flying much of the time with only 1 in 4 seats filled by paying passengers. Overture has 55–75 seats, carrying about as many people as the premium cabin in a typical widebody aircraft. If a widebody aircraft can fly with a good load factor—the percentage of seats filled—we expect to operate Overture with a similar schedule and good load factors.

When will supersonic flights start?

We are currently building XB-1, which will begin flight testing in 2020. XB-1’s flight tests will validate the methods and tools that are being applied to the design of Overture.

Overture is in the early design stages, and we’re targeting the mid-2020s for flight testing. We will pursue rigorous airworthiness testing and FAA certification on an aggressive timeline, and we will never compromise on safety or cut corners.

How do the economics compare to existing aircraft?

Total operating cost per seat-mile is comparable to subsonic business class.

What is the fuel economy of Overture?

Fuel burn per seat-mile is comparable to subsonic business class.

Will Overture use afterburners like Concorde?

No. Thanks to five more decades of technological progress in propulsion design, Overture will be able reach Mach 2.2 without afterburners—it’s a much more efficient and quieter aircraft.

XB-1’s off-the-shelf engines will require afterburners to fly supersonic.

Will Overture undergo certification?

Overture will go through the same certification process as all other commercial airplanes flying today. Type certification is a rigorous, multi-year endeavor that will put our aircraft through every imaginable situation—lightning strikes, heavy crosswinds, extreme hot and cold temperatures, and simulated emergencies are just a few of the conditions cases we’ll test. In addition, as Concorde did, we expect to comply with special conditions related specifically to supersonic flight.

XB-1 will receive an airworthiness certificate in the experimental R&D category.

Will Boom require special ground equipment or runways?

Boom is designing Overture to be compatible with existing ground support equipment, gates, and runways. It will be able to operate out of all major international airports without any modifications to terminal design or runway length.

What is the aircraft's range? How will you handle longer transpacific routes?

Overture’s single-segment range is long enough to make it across the Atlantic Ocean without stopping. On longer routes, such as across the Pacific, the airplane will make a brief tech stop to refuel. We’re taking this opportunity to rethink best practices for fuel stops—minimizing time on the ground and disturbance to passengers. The entire process will take less than an hour, and passengers won’t have to deplane. All of our quoted route times include these stops, if necessary.

What does the airplane cost?

The actual sale price of the aircraft is $200M, plus options and interior. On an available premium-seat-mile basis, Overture is meaningfully less costly to operate than subsonic widebody aircraft.

Will your aircraft be offered as a private jet?

Our focus with Overture is to develop and build a commercial supersonic airliner for anyone who can afford a business-class ticket, not a private jet for the ultra-wealthy. However, our airliner can also be configured as a personal or business aircraft.

Supersonic Economics

Supersonic flight has been promised for decades. Why is it finally coming now?

Historically, supersonic flight has not been economical enough for routine commercial operations. Today, we finally have the technology for efficient, economical, and safe supersonic flight. Key advancements, such as composite fuselages and high-temperature material systems, have only recently been accepted by the FAA for use on commercial aircraft.

Concorde wasn't an economic success, and no other supersonic aircraft has come to market since. Why will Boom succeed?

By improving efficiency over Concorde’s half-century-old airframe and engines, Overture will reduce operating costs enough to turn a profit at business-class fare levels that the market already supports.

Will passengers have to pay extra for speed?

While final ticket prices will be set by airlines, we’re designing Overture to have fares similar to today’s long-haul, business-class travel.

How will supersonic flight affect the competitive landscape?

Supersonic travel represents a significant shift in the competitive landscape. Today's carriers have thin margins and often only differentiate themselves on the comfort of their seats, the quality of their food, and the friendliness of their crews. But when time becomes a dimension for differentiation, airlines operating supersonic airliners can set themselves apart.

Therefore, the first airlines to adopt supersonic jets will enjoy a significant competitive advantage. Offering dramatically faster itineraries will give operators an edge in attracting their competitors’ most profitable premium passengers. A halo effect increases market share even on subsonic routes, as customers prefer to earn loyalty points with carriers who offer supersonic service.

Noise Levels

Won’t the sonic boom be loud?

Overture flights will focus on 500+ primarily transoceanic routes that benefit from Mach-2.2 speeds—such as New York to London or San Francisco to Tokyo. Overture won't generate a sonic boom over land cruising at subsonic speeds. Its passengers won't even notice breaking through the "sound barrier," which will be inaudible and uneventful.

What about takeoff noise?

There will be no increase to existing noise contours. Overture is being designed with the latest noise-reducing technologies. As supersonic airplanes are fundamentally different from subsonic airplanes, broadly different standards are applicable and noise levels are not directly comparable. However, the overall impact of Overture on airport communities will be similar to the quietest long-haul aircraft it replaces.

The Environment

What steps is Boom taking to make supersonic travel environmentally sustainable?

The environmental impact of flying on Overture will be comparable to flying in subsonic business class on any given route. When flights take half the time, amenities like bulky lay-flat beds and multiple catered meals become unnecessary, saving fuel and reducing emissions.

In addition, Boom is inventing the future of sustainable supersonic commercial air travel and is supportive of the UN’s existing goal of carbon-neutral growth in aviation. We recently successfully conducted the first of several alternative-fuel tests, and we are committed to pushing the envelope to implement new ways of making supersonic travel environmentally and socially sustainable for generations to come.

For our fans

I'd like to get some Boom t-shirts, models or other swag.

Thank you for your excitement! For Boom t-shirts, models or other swag, visit our online store.

Can I invest in the company?

Boom is privately held and funded by individual investors, venture capital funds, and future airline customers.

Can I tour your offices?

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer tours. As we build XB-1, we will share our progress on our website and social media, so check back often.

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