Concorde’s last supersonic flight landed in 2003.
For nearly two decades since then, travelers, regardless of their wealth, have been confined to subsonic aircraft. But are plans for high-speed commercial aircraft for the 21st century now on track?
Miami to London in less than 5 hours: This is the promise American Airlines makes when it delivers its new generation of supersonic jets.
The Dallas-based aircraft carrier giant announced that it had “agreed to purchase up to 20 Overture aircraft, with the option to add 40 more.”
Rival United has already paid a deposit for 15 new planes. They will be manufactured by Denver-based Boom Supersonic.
But does it happen? These are important questions and answers.
what happened to the concorde?
This Anglo-French jet made its first test flight in 1969 and carried paying passengers for Air France and British Airways from 1976 to 2003.
The plane flew at Mach 2.04 with up to 100 passengers at a time. This equates to 1,350 mph / 2,173 kmh at cruising altitude of 60,000 feet. Travelers from London and Paris to New York and Washington DC arrived before departure in local time.
But the Concorde had a noisy, thirsty military engine. His 1960s technology used in the Anglo-French project was extremely challenging as the heat generated by friction during supersonic flight stretched the aluminum fuselage by about 15 inches.
High oil prices, low demand and safety concerns combined to ground the plane after its crash in Paris in 2000, which killed 113 people.
What are your latest plans?
Denver-based Boom Supersonic is developing a new airliner known as the Overture.
The proposed “SST” (supersonic transport) will have a range of 7,870 km, about one-third the range of the Concorde, and fly at Mach 1.7.
At 60,000 feet, ground speed equates to approximately 1,050mph/1,670kmh. Slower than Concorde, but about twice as fast as current short-haul aircraft. They tend to fly at Mach 0.85.
“Sustainable supersonic flight can turn three-day business trips into one, long-distance relationships can thrive and humanitarian missions can save more lives,” the company said. .
When will you be ready?
“Overture is scheduled to roll out in 2025, begin test flights in 2026, and carry passengers by 2029,” said Boom Supersonic.
However, in 2017, the company said it would operate scheduled flights by 2023.
How many passengers do you have?
This is one of the few interesting uncertainties. American Airlines’ order announcement said, “The Overture is designed to carry 65 to 80 passengers.”
Boom initially said it could accommodate 55 travelers, but the company now says it can accommodate up to 88. This is approaching Concorde capacity.
How much space do you have?
According to Boom, “enough.”
The company said: Enjoy plenty of room to work or relax, a large entertainment screen and dedicated underseat storage. “
This aircraft looks a lot like a Concorde with very little personal space.
Aircraft have “gull wings” to increase speed and stability. Additionally, the plane’s newly designed fuselage, which is larger in the front and smaller in the rear, should help reduce drag.
Where does Overture fly to?
Boom says there are 600 possible city pairs. Feasible routes include long stretches across oceans. Overture must fly at subsonic speeds over the ground for a “sonic boom” that breaks the sound barrier.
Due to range constraints, it is much more suitable for transatlantic routes than transpacific routes. Sydney cannot be reached non-stop, and the only possibilities for the US and Japan are Seattle and Tokyo, which are within range.
Travel from US East Coast cities such as Boston, New York and Miami to London, Paris, Amsterdam and other European hubs may constitute a major market. In addition to major South American destinations from Miami, flights to Hawaii from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle are also feasible.
How much time can you save?
it all depends. At the launch of Overture at last month’s Farnborough Air Show, the company claimed it would fly from London to New York in his 3.5 hours, the same as the Concorde. Given the top speed, it looks frankly impossible. Even 4 hours looks ambitious.
The problem with Overture, however, is that the route must be towards the limits of range to reveal any speed advantage. The two hours he saves on a normal five-hour flight from California to Honolulu may not be enough differentiation for supersonic travel.
For routes such as London to Chicago or Toronto, the most direct routes traverse more than 1,000 miles / 1,609 km of land, greatly diminishing the speed advantage.
Can I fly between the US and Australia?
When Boom first announced plans, the design speed was Mach 2.2, more than twice as fast as conventional aircraft. The 7,500-mile/12,070-km Los Angeles-Sydney flight time was expected to be less than seven hours for him, even including stops for refueling. “Leave Los Angeles at 7am, enjoy an operetta in Sydney, and return before midnight,” the company promised.
With the proposed 7,870km range, a direct flight would not be possible.
What happens when an airplane breaks the sound barrier?
Nothing from the perspective of passengers and crew. On the surface, it sounds like thunder.
How much more expensive to fly than a conventional aircraft?
Fares have not been announced. Airlines determine the price. Mr Boom said:
Is it safe?
American Airlines said: “Under the terms of the contract, Boom must meet industry standard operating, performance and safety requirements and other customary American Airlines requirements prior to delivery of the Overture.”
The 2000 crash in Paris of an Air France Concorde that had just taken off for New York had nothing to do with supersonic flight.
What airlines fly it?
American Airlines and United Airlines have said they have purchased the jets and paid security deposits.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have shown no interest in buying jets. That way it’s perfect for US and Caribbean routes.
Before the Concorde took to the skies, airlines such as Air India, Lufthansa and Qantas were rushing to order the Anglo-French supersonic aircraft. However, their interest never translated into actual sales.
What about your environmental footprint?
The manufacturer says the Overture is “optimized for speed, safety and sustainability,” but its carbon footprint per passenger is below that of economy class on conventional aircraft. There are far more than travelers.
“Overture is the first supersonic aircraft designed with a focus on sustainability from day one,” says Boom. “We are optimizing our aircraft to support 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and promote net zero carbon operations.”
Hypersonic Flight: Fact or Science?
Every few years it seems that British travelers will soon be able to travel to Australia in 2 hours (currently the fastest journey is 17 hours).
The key, no doubt, is hypersonic travel. The idea is to propel an airliner beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and fly at perhaps 5,000 miles per hour before landing. But such a project clearly lacks the cash and political will.