Many in the industry doubt that supersonic jets will be a success for airlines. But United’s president explains why he’s betting on Boom and can even imagine a domestic flight.
Traveling on a local route in a supersonic jet? Sounds like a very distant future. But if United Airlines has a way, it may soon be possible. Airline boss Scott Kirby said at the Flightcast online event on Friday (July 23rd) with Boom Overture that he is confident flight demand will be huge. United ordered 50 aircraft from Boom Supersonic.
“If you talk to my wife, you’ll see,” he explains. Really eager to fly faster than sound. He doesn’t care where he’s going as long as he’s too fast. “I also get a lot of inquiries from customers who want to be on the first flight – not planned for 2029,” the manager says.
With a blast to Hawaii?
Kirby says they are currently even considering using the plane on domestic flights from San Francisco to Hawaii. “Not because it’s really necessary, but because the demand will be huge.” In general, however, the route network will only include destinations from which the flight arrives over water. The reason is the sonic boom.
A supersonic plane from New York will take you to Frankfurt in four hours, and a flight from San Francisco on the west coast to Tokyo in Japan takes six hours instead of ten. According to Kirby, one of the 55 seats on the supersonic plane will cost no more than the current business class ticket. Because he believes in the economy of the plane.
Industry experts have doubts about profitability
Not everyone in the industry sees it that way. “It definitely takes a lot of fuel to get a plane into supersonic range,” John Plueger of leasing giant Air Lease Corporation said in an interview with aeroTELEGRAPH. “And so I fundamentally question the economic viability, no matter how sophisticated and technologically advanced the aircraft is.”
The former boss of one of the Concorde operators is also unsure of this explosion. “We will watch with interest, but no, I will not. I am not convinced that supersonic transport is the way forward,” Willie Walsh said at an event last month. The former British Airways boss, who is now the boss of the Iata association, only became the airline’s boss after the supersonic plane was grounded, but later got an insight into the economic key figures of the Concorde operation. He doubts his profitability.
The landing of the Concorde: elegant but not economical. Image: BAE Systems
No afterburner, two engines less
Scott Kirby sees this differently. Boom and Concorde would be very different. The Concorde also had four engines equipped with afterburners. Boom’s propulsion consists of only two engines without afterburner, which greatly reduces fuel consumption compared to the Concorde.
Another requirement was that Boom’s engines could be run 100 percent on synthetic fuels, which drastically reduced emissions. “It’s the first engine developed for exactly this,” says Kirby.
New engines cost time and money
But that’s what shows how ambitious the plan to launch the flights as early as 2029 is, since Boom and Rolls Royce were known to be working on an engine together. But nothing is concrete yet. A non-afterburner supersonic engine running on sustainable fuels would be an entirely new development. And something like this costs time and, above all, a lot of money.
You can see the Booms Overture on United Airlines and cabin design in the image gallery above.