As the VP of Supply Chain at Boom Supersonic, Chris Chadwick’s role involves working across both the Overture and Symphony program teams—and with world-class suppliers, including Florida Turbine Technologies, GE Additive, StandardAero, Collins Aerospace, Eaton, and Safran Landing Systems—to bring sustainable, supersonic flight to the skies. Aernnova for Overture’s wings, Leonardo for the fuselage and wing box, and Aciturri for the empennage are the latest suppliers to join an expanding team of global suppliers to build Overture.
“We work to identify strategic supplier partners that will play a critical role in the development, test, certification, and realization of bringing supersonic flight to passengers worldwide,” Chadwick said.
In simple terms, it’s his team’s responsibility to facilitate supplier selections and then, in partnership with other Boom teams, manage these relationships as Overture progresses from the initial design phases into test, certification, and ultimately into the production and product support phases of the Overture program.
We sat down with Chadwick to learn more about what it takes to build a successful supply chain at an aerospace company.
How does your career background help you in your role at Boom?
Chadwick: “I have had extensive experience in supply chain, procurement, engineered products, general management, and developing long term strategic partnerships, including 25 years spent at Caterpillar. Unlike most of my peers at Boom, I don’t come from the aviation industry, however, I’ve learned quite a lot about the nuances of the aviation industry in my 12 months given how closely I work with groups across the organization. I can apply that learning to the principles of building long term strategic supplier relationships, which are pretty consistent across industries.”
What are the market opportunities for Overture?
Chadwick: “Before I answer that question, it’s important to understand my perspective. I’ve always been an aviation fan and in particular growing up in the UK, I saw Concorde come to fruition, take flight, and enter into service. It was a fantastic technical achievement and a quantum leap for passengers. Speed and luxury have always attracted passenger interest and driven demand.”
“Overture brings a unique combination of speed, safety, and sustainability to the market, together with an enhanced passenger experience, all of which will reset passenger expectations. This, together with a value equation, which works well for passengers and Overture operators, results in a combination of elements that create a very strong market for Overture in civil applications without figuring in the derivative airframe market. It’s also important to consider we are not reliant on new regulations, infrastructure, or significant technical innovation to realize this opportunity.”
What qualities do you consider when you are bringing people together to build an aircraft?
Chadwick: “Designing, validating, certifying, and putting a new engine and aircraft into service requires a combination of technical expertise, pioneering spirit, business acumen, teamwork, and resilience. I look for people who can demonstrate these strengths, and have a track record of delivering results.”
“Innovation depends on diversity of thought and experience along with a willingness to question the way we’ve always done things. We want team players who can thrive in a dynamic environment, and have the passion and expertise to deliver on a mission of this magnitude.”
What’s your supplier philosophy?
Chadwick: “Drive hard, be fair, be honest, and understand what success looks like for Boom and our suppliers. Over the medium to long term, the relationship has to be win/win. I win, you lose is not sustainable and is not part of my thinking. It doesn’t mean there won’t be difficulties or tough conversations, but if they are addressed in the manner I just described they can, and will be resolved and the relationship will flourish long term.”
What do you want potential suppliers to know about Boom?
Chadwick: “This is a big question, however to boil it down into a few important elements I’d say the following: We have as talented of a team as I’ve ever been around. We understand how significant the challenge is ahead of us. We have a clear and significant market opportunity and great support from key industry stakeholders including customers and government. We can’t deliver on this mission without strong suppliers, their technology and their expertise. And finally we want to push the envelope on the way we work together so we focus on delivering value for all stakeholders as we move this mission forward. There’s really an opportunity to make history together as we bring back supersonic passenger travel.”
Learn more about Overture and its collaborators here.