Overture, the flagship sustainable, supersonic airliner from Boom Supersonic, is being built by a global team of partners and suppliers from countries that include Spain, Italy, and France. Boom believes that it takes a worldwide team to make the world dramatically more accessible.
The last time the world was developing supersonic travel following the emergence of the jet age, it was a fierce competition across countries, continents, and political systems. In the supersonic race of the 1960s, the French and English were developing Concorde, the United States was working on the Boeing 2707, and the Soviet Union, the Tupolev Tu-144.
Fast forward 60 years and today it’s clear that enduring success lies in collaboration. The supersonic future is best realized through joining forces across borders and bringing together the best of the best in the global aerospace industry.
That mindset has brought together an expanding global network of suppliers to apply their expertise to the world’s fastest airliner, Overture – optimized for speed, safety and sustainability. While Boom is based in the US, its network of partners spans the globe.
Looking back at the race to supersonic transport
In the 1960s, supersonic transport (SST) projects were launched in Europe, USSR, and the US. These government-led SST projects were focused on geopolitical competition with other nations rather than collaboration, and this build-at-any-cost approach trumped the practical economics usually factored into aircraft development programs. This explains why Concorde is known as a technological marvel with restrictive airline economics.
Concorde vs. Concord?
Concorde was a joint venture between the French and British governments – representing success in international cooperation, though the goal remained to beat out the rest of the world. The name Concorde, meaning agreement or harmony, was selected to reflect the treaty between England and France. However, the relationship was not always harmonious, as the two countries went back and forth over spelling the word with an “e” (the French spelling) or without (the English spelling) during occasional disagreements.
Concorde went on to fly for 27 years, predominantly by British Airways and Air France across a limited set of transatlantic routes. Ultimately, the cost to service and maintain the plane and restrictive ticket prices led to its shutdown in 2003. However, by then, Concorde had shown the world that supersonic travel was not just possible, but a breakthrough in connecting people around the globe.
Nearing the end of the supersonic competition
While Concorde is history’s best known commercial supersonic aircraft, the Soviet Tupelov Tu-144 actually flew first, beating Concorde to that milestone in 1968. The USSR’s focus on beating the West in the supersonic race led to a rushed schedule. Following a crash at the Paris Air Show in 1973, the program was delayed and then canceled after only 55 roundtrip flights which were plagued with issues and notoriously loud and uncomfortable for passengers on board.
Development of the Boeing 2707 was stopped when Congress canceled its subsidy in 1971. While it never took to the skies, there are lessons to be learned from the program that Boom is tapping into through a key member of that engineering team, former Boeing CEO Phil Condit.
“I found, in Boom Supersonic, the right team with the right product.”
Phil Condit, Boom Supersonic Advisor
Now a member of Boom’s Advisory Council, Phil Condit is a legend in the aerospace industry who began his career working on the Boeing SST and is now bringing that expertise to the development of Overture.
“I began my career almost 60 years ago, working on the Boeing SST. And so now I get to go full circle. I get the privilege of advising as Boom designs and brings to production a sustainable, supersonic airliner. I will always be proud of the airplanes that I worked on, but even more excited by the future.”
Looking ahead to the supersonic future
Among the lessons from supersonic programs past is the opportunity to tap the best-in-class of the aerospace industry from around the world and bring them together, rather than pit them against one another.
With a globally shared vision, the mission is no longer to beat out the rest of the world. The mission is to make the world dramatically more accessible – together.
The approach with Overture is to pull together an elite global team of suppliers to build the world’s fastest sustainable airliner. The team of suppliers building Overture is made up of leading aerospace companies around the world, including Spanish companies Aernnova and Aciturri, and Italy-based Leonardo:
- Spanish company Aernnova, one of the world’s largest tier-one aerospace suppliers, will design and develop the wing structure for Overture. Overture’s gull wings are shaped to enhance supersonic performance as well as improve subsonic and transonic handling. The wings are structurally thinner than typical subsonic wings to reduce drag, allowing the aircraft to efficiently travel at higher speeds.
- Italian company Leonardo will support Overture as the primary engineering lead for major fuselage structural components and as the design and build partner for two major fuselage sections of Overture, including the wingbox. The proprietary design of Overture’s contoured fuselage has a larger diameter toward the front of the aircraft and a smaller diameter toward the rear. Boom applied this design technique to minimize wave-drag and maximize fuel efficiency at supersonic speeds.
- Spain-based Aciturri, a tier-one leader across aerostructures and aeroengines components, will design and develop the empennage for Overture. Overture’s empennage features a differentiated horizontal stabilizer that allows for greater control at subsonic speeds—particularly takeoff and landing.
Boom’s growing network
These European aerospace leaders are part of Boom’s growing network of global suppliers, which includes Safran Landing Systems, Eaton, Collins Aerospace, Flight Safety International, FTT, GE Additive, and StandardAero.
Backed by the experience and expertise of this growing worldwide team, Boom is making significant progress toward the return of supersonic commercial flight, mining the ingenuity of the past to fuel today’s innovation and the supersonic future.
Alongside global partners, Boom is harnessing six decades of advancements in aerospace technologies, materials, and software modeling. All to make Overture more affordable to build, profitable to operate at fares that can drive mass adoption, considerably quieter in and around airport communities, and more comfortable than the engineers of the 1960s could have ever imagined.
Overture will incorporate lighter, stronger, and more thermally stable carbon composite materials into the majority of the structural build. Carbon composites can also be formed more easily into the optimal shaping for area-ruling, contributing to the aircraft’s aerodynamic efficiency.
On take-off, Overture will use the world’s first automated noise reduction system. Unlike previous SSTs, the airliner will fly without the use of afterburners. Overture will meet the same strict regulatory noise levels as the latest subsonic airplanes. These noise reduction efforts will deliver a quieter experience both for passengers and airport communities.
Built for sustainability
Overture is designed to be both economically and environmentally sustainable, carrying 64-80 passengers and flying on up to 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Boom has secured 10 million gallons of net zero carbon SAF per year from Dimensional Energy and AIR COMPANY for the duration of the Overture flight test program. Both companies produce sustainable fuels from waste CO2 using only renewable energy, allowing Boom to directly close the carbon loop.
While history’s supersonic airliners served only a handful of routes, Boom has identified over 600 profitable routes across the globe, with the potential to reach tens of millions of passengers.
Innovation and collaboration are yielding results, proven by Overture’s order book standing at 130 orders and pre-orders, which includes 35 orders from United and American.
Learn more about Overture and Boom’s global network of suppliers here.