The airline, which plans to buy planes from Boom Supersonic, a start-up, could become the first to offer ultrafast commercial flights since the Concorde stopped flying in 2003.
The era of supersonic commercial flights came to an end when the Concorde completed its last trip between New York and London in 2003, but the allure of ultrafast air travel never quite died out.
Last Thursday, United Airlines said it was ordering 15 jets that can travel faster than the speed of sound from Boom Supersonic, a start-up in Denver. The airline said it had an option to increase its order by up to 35 planes.
Boom, which has raised $270 million from venture capital firms and other investors, said it planned to introduce aircraft in 2025 and start flight tests in 2026. It expects the plane, which it calls the Overture, to carry passengers before the end of the decade.
But the start-up’s plans have already slipped at least once, and it will have to overcome many obstacles, including securing approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and regulators in other countries. Even established manufacturers have stumbled when introducing new or redesigned planes. Boeing’s 737 Max was grounded for nearly two years after two crashes.
The deal is United’s latest attempt to position itself as a risk taker shaking up an industry that is just getting back on its feet after a devastating pandemic. The airline announced a $20 million investment in an electric air taxi start-up, Archer, in February, and it is working on a “steady drumbeat” of more such bets, said Michael Leskinen, who heads corporate development at United.
“We are really confident in the future,” Mr. Leskinen said. “Aerospace takes a long time to innovate. And so if you don’t start setting these opportunities out now, you will have missed them.”
Source: NYTimes / Cover Image: Boom Supersonic