Aernnova Employees Welcomed to Boom Headquarters in Colorado

Aernnova engineers are working side-by-side with Boom on wing design and development for Overture

In 2023, Boom signed a structural supplier agreement with Aernnova to design and develop the wing structure for Overture. Based in Spain and one of the world’s largest tier-one aerospace suppliers, Aernnova joined Boom’s growing world-class supplier network following an announcement at the Paris Air Show. 

This year, two experienced Aernnova engineers have joined the team onsite at Boom’s headquarters in Centennial, Colorado. Stress engineer Iker Zalbide Padura and design engineer Sergio Bonachela Blazquez are working closely with the Boom team on the Overture program, and both have experience working on supersonic projects.

Get to know more about the collaboration between the two companies and what the two engineers are most excited about.

What is your background/past experience that led you to this role?

Iker: I have been working for Aernnova for the last 15 years, and during this time I have had the opportunity to participate in different civil aircraft projects. Between all of them, I can say the most special one was a supersonic jet project I worked on here in the US, as a focal stress engineer. I think one of the key aspects is the experience we gathered on that project, that hopefully I will be able to apply to this amazing opportunity here at Boom.

Sergio: I’ve been working in the aerospace industry for a long time already. 2007 was an inflection point for me when I was offered to come to Seattle to help Boeing in the development of the 787 airplane. Since then, I made a career within Aernnova working onsite with several customers, mainly in the US and also in Switzerland and France.

How did you get started working in aerospace?

Iker: My first contact with the aerospace industry happened during my last year in university in the Basque Country. There is a solid aerospace industry in Spain and there is a close collaboration with the engineering schools. There was a dedicated aerospace master’s program I had the opportunity to join, and that experience allowed me to join Aernnova afterwards.

Sergio: Originally, my father was to blame for that. Although he developed his career in the railway industry, he always loved airplanes and he shared that passion with me since I was a kid. We used to go to airfields where they flew scale models every weekend, and to airshows when they were happening nearby. I also had a library full of books about airplanes at my disposal. The weekly encyclopedias were one of my favorite readings before going to bed. Fast forward to my first job that happened to be in the oil and gas industry. Luckily for me, the department I was part of used to work on all sorts of cool projects, from space satellites to trains and everything in between (including airplanes!). I did everything I could to get transferred to the group working on airplanes. I pushed hard to self-learn the new CAD program they were introducing (Catia V4) and finally, I succeeded. My first work in aerospace was modeling parts of the fuselage of the Airbus (formerly CASA) C-295, a small cargo-multirole military aircraft. Then I moved to the horizontal stabilizer of the Airbus A340-600, and the rest is history as they say.

How or why were you selected to come to Boom HQ, and how long will you be on site?

Iker: As part of the Aernnova Engineering team, I’ve been working on different projects in the US for the last few years. Also, as mentioned before, I had the opportunity to participate in a supersonic jet project that I think will be a valuable experience for this project. Honestly, my expectation is to be here until seeing this amazing challenge become a reality, and hopefully to have the opportunity to fly in the Overture!

Sergio: I would say it is a combination of several factors. First, I’m based in the US, and I happened to be available since the program I was working on prior was in its final stages. Second, the experience gathered over the years at my particular role within Aernnova. Third, I was part of the team onsite (along with Iker!) working on another supersonic program. As such, both of us have a very specific knowledge about the lessons learned from that supersonic program that I’m sure will be valuable for the Overture project. You guys will have me here as long as the program requires it and I feel good doing it.

What are you working on while at Boom? What is your role?

Iker: I will be acting as a focal stress engineer here at Boom. My role will be to be a link between Boom and Aernnova for all activities related to stress mainly, but also any other aspect I can help with.

Sergio: I work as a focal design engineer, mainly focused on design and integration topics. I will be helping with the transfer of information back and forth, working on trade studies, and I’ll be one of the faces of my company while at Boom making sure what we do is what is expected from the team.

What makes you most excited about working with Boom?

Iker: During my years working at Aernnova, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in different projects, many of them directly with clients, such as Boom. The experience of interacting directly with them during the development of an aircraft allows you to engage with many disciplines and actors that are often not accessible, and from a professional and personal point of view, it is a very enriching experience. In this case, the development of a supersonic aircraft is one of the greatest challenges that an engineer can face in this industry, a project that marks your professional career. And without a doubt, it is an incredible opportunity.

Sergio: Are you kidding? A supersonic airplane! A few years ago, I was working in Toulouse for an R&D program. I was having a great time over there. Work was exciting, my coworkers were a blessing, the city was a treat (don’t get me started with the food) and I was only about three hours away from my home city Barcelona. I exchanged all that to go to Reno to work on another supersonic aircraft. Boom offers me the opportunity to work on the successor of the Concorde, one of the most iconic airplanes ever built! Being part of this endeavor will be one of the highlights of my career, no doubt about it.

Has anything surprised you about working with the Boom team?

Iker: More than a surprise, something that I personally really appreciate, and it is the closeness dealing with the Boom team, the way they treat you not as a supplier but as one more within the organization. This is really important for us engineers who work at customers’ facilities, far from our homes and in a totally different time frame.

Sergio: I would say for the most part how knowledgeable they are. And how the team made us feel welcome from the first day.

What are the most important considerations when developing the wings of a new aircraft?

Iker: The most important considerations when developing the wings are mainly the mission for the aircraft, like maximum speed, range, maximum take-off weight, etc. These key parameters are the primary drivers of the wing, when it comes to wing area, aerodynamic profile and position.

Sergio: As with any aircraft structure, it is a complex puzzle that takes a long time and a lot of different disciplines to pull off. I think the aerodynamic efficiency (lift-to-drag ratio) of the wing is the most important criterion. Making sure the wing can maintain structural integrity while being as light as possible would be the second one. Easier said than done, once you factor the sheer number of systems they will include (mechanical, EWIS, hydraulics, fuel, and more), how they’re going to be manufactured and assembled, the logistics of the whole operation and the operational and maintenance requirements once in service.

What’s special about the wings of a supersonic aircraft?

Iker: Although it took several years and significant effort during the 1950s and 60s to understand how to get to supersonic flight, relatively simple rules like a constant front section along the aircraft (commonly known as “area rule”) are applied nowadays as primary design drivers for supersonic aircrafts and wings.

Application of these rules generally results in very thin profiles, with relatively flat surfaces and sharp leading edges, and specific thickness distribution and curvature.

Nowadays, one of the biggest challenges is to find a good compromise between subsonic and supersonic speed wing design for best efficiency.

Sergio: Supersonic wings are fundamentally different from the subsonic wings of regular commercial aircrafts as they require a more aggressive sweep to help reduce the effects of supersonic shock waves. They come with a set of cons: overall span of the wing is normally reduced which leads to poor cruise efficiency and they require high takeoff and landing speeds. As with everything in life, it is a compromise!

In the 1950s through the 70s, they tried to solve the problem with variable sweep wings but the complexity, weight, and reliability of those systems plus the advances in the control surfaces over the years steered the industry away from them, leading them to embrace instead the delta wing concept (or some variation of it).

Tell us a little bit about Aernnova and its partnership with Boom.

Iker: Boom is a company that is taking on one of the greatest challenges in the aeronautical industry, which is to bring supersonic flights back to the market. This task will require the best commitment and talent available in the industry.

Aernnova, if it has been characterized by something since its first beginnings, is to provide differential value in the most important projects of the aeronautical industry in recent decades, and it seems clear to me that the paths of Boom and Aernnova were bound to cross in a project like the Overture.

Sergio: Aernnova is specialized in designing, manufacturing, and maintaining aircraft structural components. We have over 5,000 employees with facilities in several places in Europe and America. As a company, we’re the biggest tier-one supplier for Airbus in Spain, but we have worked with most major OEMs in the commercial and business aviation industry, from Boeing to Embraer, Bombardier, Pilatus, Hondajet… you name it.

Boom and Aernnova have worked together in some capacity on Overture since 2019, when we were bringing a composite partial fuselage panel design. Currently the part of the company that is more engaged with Boom is Aernnova Engineering and the expectation is to bring onboard the different manufacturing and assembly disciplines of the company as the program progresses.

What is your favorite thing about being in Colorado/the U.S.?

Iker: This is my first experience in Colorado, although not in the US as I have previously been to Seattle and Reno. The climate and landscape is something that I really like about Colorado. It is very different from my hometown in Northern Spain, which is more akin to Seattle. There’s something about the view of massive plains with large snow peaked mountains in the background that I love. Oh, and it doesn’t rain much here!

Sergio: I’ve been in the US for so many years that somehow, I feel like this country is almost my second home (it has that “familiar” aspect to it by now). I’m definitely a west coast kind of guy, I’ve been all over, and I love nature and outdoor activities and I absolutely adore the Northwest which is where I’ve spent most of my time here. That being said, Colorado has all you can ask for in this regard and I’m looking forward to enjoying the Rockies to its fullest as soon as I can start camping and hiking!


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