United’s decision to purchase up to 50 new supersonic aircraft has turned the aviation spotlight back on these futuristic planes. However, Airbus does not plan to make supersonic planes one of its priorities, as it plans its next aircraft models. Let’s find out more about the European manufacturer’s view.
During a media briefing call today, Airbus executives chimed into the ongoing discussion of supersonic planes. In early June, United Airlines announced plans to buy up to 50 (15 firmed) Boom Aerospace “Overture” aircraft. The deal marked a significant talking point for the future of travel and aircraft designs.
While Airbus’s CCO remarked, “Well we loved the Concorde didn’t we” to the laughter of those on the call, its future at the company was clear. Speaking about the future of supersonic jets at Airbus, EVP Programmes & Service Philippe Munn succinctly said,
“When you fight for the next generation [of aircraft], zero emissions, and so on, you make it part of your priority and part of your DNA. Supersonic is not one of those priorities [at Airbus]. That’s my only comment.”
This response isn’t surprising coming from an established manufacturer like Airbus. The future of supersonic planes remains very much up in the air. While there are many companies working hard to produce a working model, a series of regulatory, environmental, and commercial challenges lie in the way of any such aircraft. Indeed, United’s first Overture jet is not slated to carry passengers until 2029, if all goes well.
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Supersonic travel runs through Airbus’ history. The company was created as part of a merger between several leading European aerospace firms, including Aérospatiale. The latter was the manufacturer of Concorde, alongside the British Aircraft Corporation. Airbus eventually became the maker of the Concorde from its formation in 2001 to the retirement of the plane in 2003.
Despite the allure of supersonic travel, it proved to be quite a headache for airlines at times. Expensive operating costs, limited demand, and high prices meant only two airlines ever flew the aircraft. However, the latest generation of supersonic planes hopes to return and break from the mistakes of the past.
For instance, Boom’s Overture plans to be net-carbon neutral upon its launch, solving a major hurdle for the industry. Additionally, newer components like carbon composites and titanium will allow the plane to be lighter and less expensive to operate for airlines. This could mean more affordable tickets for passengers, although don’t expect them to be cheap.
Long time to go
For now, both Airbus and Boeing will both be keeping an eye on the supersonic market. If more airlines follow United’s lead and order jets, or the next generation of aircraft shows promise, expect both market leaders to quickly jump in.
What do you think about the future of supersonic travel? Let us know in the comments!