Supersonic startup Boom Supersonic has entered into a three-year partnership with the US Air Force, the firm announced this week. The partnership, valued at up to $60 million, seeks to aid the development of Boom’s commercial jet – Overture. Part of the plan is to develop military versions for the Air Force too.
Boom bags Air Force investment
Boom Supersonic, the leading aerospace company looking to bring back supersonic passenger flight, has snagged a significant investment from the US Air Force to fast track its development of the Overture. The aircraft is anticipated to be the first commercial supersonic plane since Concorde, with sustainability built in from the start.
The Air Force has awarded the contract to Boom via its commercial technology arm AFVentures and its innovation division, AFWERX. The funding its known as Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI), and is valued at up to $60 million.
Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl commented on the partnership, saying,
“We are proud of the Air Force’s continued support and recognition of Boom’s leadership in supersonic flight—and we see our partnership as mutually beneficial. With STRATFI, we’re able to collaborate with the Air Force on the unique requirements and needs for global military missions, ultimately allowing Boom to better satisfy the needs of the Air Force where it uses commercially derived aircraft. As a potential future platform for the Air Force, Overture would offer the valuable advantage of time, an unmatched option domestically and internationally.”
Boom noted that the STRATFI funding would help fast track some of the critical research and development initiatives ongoing at the company. Specifically, the company said the funding would enable such things as wind tunnel testing and propulsion system definition.
It’s the second time Boom has snagged investment from the Air Force. In September 2020, the firm received funding to investigate supersonic aircraft for governmental executive travel, and how that would look. Shortly after, Boom unveiled the XB-1, a mini-Overture-type aircraft that will form the basis of the flight testing for the larger sibling. The XB-1 was expected to fly in 2021, but will now make its maiden voyage this year.
Is the world ready for Overture?
Boom’s Overture is an airliner designed to carry between 65 and 88 passengers at twice the speed of conventional jet aircraft. It is being designed to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel, and is promising net-zero operations from day one. The XB-1 testbed is set to fly later in 2022, with the full-size version anticipated to begin manufacture in 2023.
While many remain skeptical about whether the world can sustain a new supersonic aircraft, Boom believes the time is right to bring back faster than sound flight. The company is leveraging more than 50 years of advancements in materials, aerodynamics, propulsion and technology to develop a supersonic airliner that is right for today.
With a promise to slash travel time from London to New York from the current seven-plus hours down to just three and a half, it’s a niche that could prove popular with the business travel segment. It’s already secured a commitment from United Airlines for the Overture, and could see more interest as it moves closer to entry into service.
But we’ll have to wait some time to take that inaugural flight. The company intends to break ground on the manufacturing facility later this year, and doesn’t see the first Overture rolling out until 2025. With rigorous certification and proving processes undoubtedly necessary, the anticipated entry into service for passenger operations is pegged at 2029.