The Return of Supersonic Air Travel

Starting in 1948, Farnborough International Airshow is a bi-annual trade exhibition for the aerospace and aviation industry, where aircraft from all divisions are displayed and demonstrated to potential customers and investors. The second-largest show of its kind, it has been the showground of many famous aircraft including; Airbus A380, Concorde and in 1958, the RAF’s Black Arrows.

Four years since the last show due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s show featured an exciting announcement around the future of supersonic air travel. Supersonic transport (SST) is designed to transport passengers at speeds greater than the speed of sound (at an altitude of 60,000ft, which means flying faster than 660mph). 

Boom Supersonic announced the conceptual designs of Overture, an aircraft that is the accumulation of 26 million core hours of simulated software designs, five wind tunnel tests, and the careful evaluation of 51 full design iterations.

Flying passengers at twice the speed of todays’ commercial aircraft, Overture is estimated to carry around 80 passengers and run 100% on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), with a range of 4,250 nautical miles. Boom combines a number of engineering innovations in aerodynamics, noise reduction, and overall performance.

Some of the key features of the newly-announced aircraft are;

Four-engine design:

Overture will be powered by four powerful wing-mounted engines. This will enable the aircraft to cruise at a speed of 1.7 Mach over water and just under 1 Mach over land.

Net-zero carbon:

To aid the aviation industry’s environmental and sustainability goal of being carbon neutral by 2050, Overture has been developed to be net zero carbon, flying on 100% SAF.

Gull wings:

The aircraft’s wings are sculpted to enhance supersonic performance as well as improve subsonic and transonic handling. Importantly, the wing shaping also helps ensure safety and stability at any speed.

Quieter operation:

On take-off, Overture will use the world’s first automated noise reduction system. The airliner will fly without afterburners, meeting the same strict regulatory noise levels as the latest subsonic aircraft. These noise reduction efforts will deliver a quieter experience both for passengers and airport communities.

Contoured fuselage:

According to the principle of area-ruling, Overture’s fuselage has a larger diameter toward the front of the aircraft and a smaller diameter toward the rear. Boom has applied this design technique to minimize drag and maximize fuel efficiency at supersonic speeds.

Carbon composite construction:

Overture will incorporate carbon composite materials into the majority of the build that are lighter, stronger, and more thermally stable than traditional metal construction. Carbon composites can also be manufactured with highly complex curvature, contributing to the aircraft’s aerodynamic efficiency.

It will go into production in 2024, with United Airlines already ordering 15 aircraft, with an estimated date to be in the skies of 2029.

Not only that, but in a collaborative effort, Boom Supersonic and Northrop Grumman will soon offer a new supersonic aircraft tailored for the US military and its allies. The supersonic aircraft could offer capabilities in the rapid movement of personnel and/or cargo over long distances, as it would offer a significant increase against aircraft speed, meaning it could speed up the delivery of medical supplies, essential items and aid medical evacuations.


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