Boom Supersonic Announces New Engine Partner

Boom Supersonic Announces New Engine Partner

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Boom Technology is a Colorado-based aeronautics company that has been working on bringing back supersonic passenger air travel. Specifically, the Boom Overture is supposed to become the modern day Concorde, and both American Airlines and United Airlines have already placed orders for the jet.

The issue is, it’s questionable how viable this concept really is. While Boom has been suggesting that the plane will enter service by 2029, Boom completely overhauled the aircraft design earlier this year, and up until now hasn’t announced a partnership for an engine manufacturer. Rolls-Royce was supposed to work with Boom on this, but pulled out of the deal earlier this year, stating that “the commercial aviation supersonic market is not currently a priority” for the company.

There’s now an update, as a new engine partner has just been announced for the Boom Overture.

Boom partnering with Kratos on Overture engine

The Boom Overture not having an engine partner has obviously been a major concern when it comes to the viability of this jet. Boom has been promising that a new engine partner would be announced before the end of the year, and that’s exactly what has happened today.

We knew that Boom’s engine partner wouldn’t be one of the “big four” (General Electric, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, or Safran), which left a lot of questions. As reported by Reuters, Boom will be partnering with Kratos Defense & Security Solutions. Beyond that, details about the financial arrangement between the two companies are limited.

A media event is expected to be held later today at Greensboro’s Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO), where the company plans to spend $500 million on a production facility.

It’s of course good news that Boom found an engine partner, though:

  • Boom would have lost a lot of credibility if there wasn’t an announcement before the end of the year
  • I’m curious if Kratos is actually committing to investing significant amounts of money into making this engine a reality, or if this is more of a “we’re exploring a partnership” concept, in order to buy Boom more time
  • Since the Boom Overture is a supersonic jet, I suppose partnering with a non-commercial jet engine producer isn’t a bad idea; then again, it’s pretty telling to me that none of the major commercial engine manufacturers have been willing to pursue this concept
United Airlines has ordered the Boom Overture

Boom still has an uphill battle

Boom has managed to raise an unbelievable amount of money, but personally I’m still skeptical about this being a viable concept. Can Boom build a jet that can fly supersonic? Yes, I absolutely believe so.

Can Boom build a plane that’s commercially viable, that gets support from regulators, and that could actually be carrying passengers within seven years? That I remain much more skeptical about:

  • Boeing announced the 777X concept in 2013, and that’s expected to enter service in 2025 at the absolute earliest; that was “only” an update to an existing jet from one of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers, so the timeline just seems highly unrealistic here
  • The manufacturer of the Concorde never made money on the plane; most orders for the Concorde were never followed through on
  • Given the range of the jet and the need for supersonic flight to be overwater, the actual markets where this is a viable concept are limited; sure, there’s New York to London, but aside from that, there aren’t that many city pairs
  • I don’t think there’s a need for supersonic travel in the same way there used to be; premium travel has improved so much in terms of comfort, Wi-Fi connectivity, etc., so time spent traveling isn’t “wasted” in the same way as before
  • With environmentalism being an increasingly important topic for airlines, I just don’t see how this concept fits into that, even if it’s much more fuel efficient than the Concorde was

So yeah, maybe the Boom Overture could be carrying passengers by 2040 if Boom is willing to take a multi-billion dollar loss on the project (which… is not how business works). But I just don’t see any planet on which this will be a profitable project, and this plane could be flying by 2029.

As I’ve often said, I would love to be proven wrong, though.

I’d love for the Boom Overture to become a reality

Bottom line

Boom Technology has revealed that Kratos Defense & Security Solutions is the new engine partner for the Overture supersonic jet. Boom promised an announcement like this before the end of the year, so it’s good news that this has happened. What remains to be seen is how substantive this partnership really is. Is Kratos 100% committed to making this a reality regardless of the cost, or is this more intended as mutually beneficial PR?

What do you make of this Boom Overture engine situation?

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  1. Gerard Black Guest

    Mr Scholl inspires confidence. So, Yes. I think Boom will happen, provided it can keep to it's advertised timeline. I am saving money for a Heathrow- Newarke return ticket with United.

  2. John Smith Guest

    It’s Concorde , not THE Concorde .

  3. Pete Mitchel Guest

    Take a lot of money from “investors”, live like kings for a few years, rat hole money away somewhere, go out of business, disappear, and a good time was had by all, god bless us everyone.

  4. Eric Guest

    When you're "engine partner" has less than $1b in book value for a many $b project, it's fundamentally unserious.

    Not going to happen.

  5. Stuart Allen Guest

    Get it in the air it's comforting to know it won't destroy the planet

  6. Mike Guest

    The backup engine provider is Briggs and Stratton.

    1. JasonB Member

      I hope they go 4-stroke so the pilot doesn't have to waste a bunch of time mixing up all that fuel and oil.

    2. Nick Guest

      I think that Briggs & Stratton would be a good alternative, it’s never let me down on my lawn mower

  7. Goforride Member

    The only future for this plane is for a "niche" transport for the Pentagon. If it ever sees the light of day, it will be to ferry high priority supplies and personnel from Hawaii to the western Pacific to fight China. I suspect one could get a pretty decent number of hypersonic air launched cruise missiles inside.

  8. Emily Guest

    Haha - so Boom is teaming up with the turbofan/turbojet manufacturer for small UAVs and cruise missiles! Boom! In some ways, the concept is similar, with the exception of one key requirement - multiple uses!

  9. uldguy Diamond

    I think the reason why none of the major engine builders have signed up to develop an engine for this white elephant project has nothing to do with them being “green”, though they certainly will try to use that as an excuse.

    The real reason is simple math. Even if their wildest dreams come true, the Overture will never be a big seller which means there really isn’t much of a market for the...

    I think the reason why none of the major engine builders have signed up to develop an engine for this white elephant project has nothing to do with them being “green”, though they certainly will try to use that as an excuse.

    The real reason is simple math. Even if their wildest dreams come true, the Overture will never be a big seller which means there really isn’t much of a market for the engine manufacturers. The costs to develop and certify an engine are huge. Balance that against the limited number of engines that ultimately will be sold means the whole project is a non-starter. The Concorde benefited from an engine manufacturer that was government owned. Making a profit wasn’t really a consideration. Prestige carried the day back then. Times have changed since then.

    I wish them all luck. But the likelihood of this being a commercial success for either company is very poor.

    1. Goforride Member

      Concorde was also able to use existing RR Olympus engines from the Vulcan bomber. They didn't need to develop not just a new engine, but a new engine concept.

  10. Arrowspace90 Guest

    Has anyone ever heard of Kratos?
    I was in the airline biz for 38 years and I never heard of them. But sure, there's LOTS of stuff I didn't hear of that was around and real.
    Personally I remain very skeptical about the Overture.
    It's really flying against headwinds when it comes to fuel burn vs speed. It's hard to paint it "green" and that's why the mainline engine manufacturers all backed...

    Has anyone ever heard of Kratos?
    I was in the airline biz for 38 years and I never heard of them. But sure, there's LOTS of stuff I didn't hear of that was around and real.
    Personally I remain very skeptical about the Overture.
    It's really flying against headwinds when it comes to fuel burn vs speed. It's hard to paint it "green" and that's why the mainline engine manufacturers all backed out.
    But best of luck to Boom, they will need it. i suspect a lot of people will lose their investments.

    1. LEo Diamond

      "Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc, (Nasdaq: KTOS), headquartered in San Diego, California,[3] specializes in directed-energy weapons, unmanned systems, satellite communications, cyber security/warfare, microwave electronics, missile defense, training and combat systems." -- Wikipedia.

      Seems to me Kratos sounds more like an armed force-based corporate than a consumer/corporate-based corp...

    2. LEo Diamond

      On February 24, 2020, The Kratos Unmanned Systems division bought small turbojet manufacturer Technical Directions Inc. (TDI), based in Detroit, Michigan.

      Barely started at the engine business... Long way to go...

    3. D3kingg Guest

      @LEo

      What’s your point ? Political disagreement ? They’re in the aerospace industry. They can build engines.

    4. V- Guest

      Being in the defense industry for 15+ years, there's a difference between "being in the aerospace industry" and "having the capability to build commercial aircraft engines". For example, Lockheed Martin have several major US Navy programs that deeply affect the systems on board ships and submarines. But they have no ship building capability (they use General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls Industries for that). The are still considered a major player in the naval defense industry.

      ...

      Being in the defense industry for 15+ years, there's a difference between "being in the aerospace industry" and "having the capability to build commercial aircraft engines". For example, Lockheed Martin have several major US Navy programs that deeply affect the systems on board ships and submarines. But they have no ship building capability (they use General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls Industries for that). The are still considered a major player in the naval defense industry.

      I don't really know too much about Kratos. At 3,300 employees and given the quick tour of their website, they sound more closer to a smaller SAIC (~26,000 employees) than a smaller Pratt & Whitney (~39,000 employees). Kratos seems to be as a small systems integrator that would need to build up it's aircraft engine manufacturing capability. Kratos did acquire Technical Directions Inc. (TDI) and doing a quick search on that, they seemed to develop turbojet Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for experimental missile technology. But turbojet technology for missile research is whole separate ball game to production manufacturing for a commercial aircraft.

      I just wanna say, I really hope that Boom can somehow make this work. It would be really cool to be able to fly on a supersonic airliner now after watching the Concorde at JFK when I was a little kid. From my point of view, this "announcement" just makes me very concerned.

    5. Emily Guest

      I am aware of them due to an acquisition we were eyeing in the past. They have a division which make turbofans and turbojets for UAVs and cruise missiles. I hope Boom's aircraft see a better end then most of their other vehicles ;)

    6. Goforride Member

      Making supersonic engines to power an airliner is a long way from making subsonic engines to power a cruise missle or UAV, especially when they have to do so in a cost/effective way for a commercial customer.

  11. iamhere Guest

    A non announcement....They just announced when the announcement will be

  12. Brad OLSEN Guest

    All you skeptics out there you have to believe in this company’s goal. Don’t shoot them down before they get one plane off the ground. No pun intended. Be supportive what these people know OK you have something here do everything you need to do to make your dream possible

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      In the midst of a myriad of evidence to the contrary? ...that's called being a sucker.

      And this is coming from someone with "Concorde" in the username. :(

  13. Bryan Guest

    Hiding in the midst of this, Boom has NOT done a demonstration test-flight of its testbed, the XB-1. This was supposed to occur in 2017, but the date has been continuously pushed back. Now even 2022 seems out of reach.

  14. T- Guest

    At least there is a company that hasn’t given up on the dream.

  15. Abdul Alfayed Guest

    Concorde launched in an era of bulky primative computers, highly expensive international phone calls, snail mail and face to face meetings. Boom is planning to launch a slightly slower plane in an age of free international zoom calls. Nope it has no market.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      This. No matter how fast you make an aircraft, it'll never compete with the speed of an electric signal. Which is why the business case for faster aircraft (for the mass market) is essentially non-existence. It's like claiming that you have the fastest ocean liner, after the 707 had debuted.

      But, like ocean liners in the age of jets: there may still be a market for smaller niche wealthy ops.

      Which is why I'd...

      This. No matter how fast you make an aircraft, it'll never compete with the speed of an electric signal. Which is why the business case for faster aircraft (for the mass market) is essentially non-existence. It's like claiming that you have the fastest ocean liner, after the 707 had debuted.

      But, like ocean liners in the age of jets: there may still be a market for smaller niche wealthy ops.

      Which is why I'd say that if we ever see passenger supersonic service together with petroleum-powered aircraft, it'll be in the form of biz jets.

  16. Jim B Guest

    I really don’t see a market for SS travel per:
    1. The world gaining comfort with “zoom” meetings and the cost of face to face meetings
    2. Right or wrong, environmental concerns. I can see air Tavel in general facing a decline.
    3. The rise of lifestyle concerns, too much travel and too littLe home.

    1. Rotuma Diamond

      Yes. Many of us would much rather relax in business class with a lie-flat seat for 12 hours in a 550-mph airliner, instead of sitting mostly upright for half the flight time and paying 3 times the price for an SST ticket. With the former you can sleep, watch movies, or whatever.

  17. Steve Diamond

    Surely they will soon announce a jv with BALTIA to provide feeder traffic for international flights.

  18. Cg Guest

    Would the partner be Honeywell?

  19. Trees76 Guest

    How about sitting in the middle seat for fifteen hours?we absolutely have to have this concept become a reality.Otherwise, let’s return to the stagecoach.

    1. 73MAX DRIVER Guest

      Pax who are willing to shell out for SST are not the same customer base as the middle seat riders. The question is: is someone going to pop $2000 per segment for SS travel vs $1000 for Polaris lie-flat seats. I hope so, because I’d love the opportunity to check breaking the number off my bucket list. But I’d be surprised if there’s enough buy-in from the traveling public.

  20. justlanded Guest

    "...willing to take a multi-billion dollar loss on the project ..."

    Sounds like Elon...

  21. German Alvarez Guest

    How about China, sure they will be like to get involve in that, for them is more about technology and the glamour to be the first country to acomplish that

  22. Bowie Guest

    I just cannot see Boom succeeding because of the seriously limited range of the overture. Unless they think the entirety of the New York to London or Paris route will be entirely operated by overtures and nothing else, I see no way of this succeeding

    The overture redesign as well looks suspiciously similar to the design for the failed Boeing 2707. The bulging fuselage at the front and the engines are identical to a design...

    I just cannot see Boom succeeding because of the seriously limited range of the overture. Unless they think the entirety of the New York to London or Paris route will be entirely operated by overtures and nothing else, I see no way of this succeeding

    The overture redesign as well looks suspiciously similar to the design for the failed Boeing 2707. The bulging fuselage at the front and the engines are identical to a design that was developed in the 1960s. Innovating design? I don't think

  23. Lee Guest

    Can Boom get it to fly? Sure. But, that's not the question.

    Can Boom get them to buy? That's the question.

    What does Boom need to do? 12 cents per passenger mile. It's that simple.

  24. Quo Vadis Guest

    Hmm, if it's not any of the big four engine makers, I wonder if Boom will be the first commercial aircraft manufacturer to introduce rotating detonation engines (RDE). This is reportedly a hot (pun intended) area of research for both the U.S. and China, as RDE reportedly offer better fuel efficiency and thrust for missiles, aircraft, and even ships than existing turbofan/turbojet technology.

    Given that Boom Overture will be a supersonic aircraft, perhaps Boom will...

    Hmm, if it's not any of the big four engine makers, I wonder if Boom will be the first commercial aircraft manufacturer to introduce rotating detonation engines (RDE). This is reportedly a hot (pun intended) area of research for both the U.S. and China, as RDE reportedly offer better fuel efficiency and thrust for missiles, aircraft, and even ships than existing turbofan/turbojet technology.

    Given that Boom Overture will be a supersonic aircraft, perhaps Boom will boldly dive into the deep end of the pool with RDE.

    1. Jared Guest

      It would be exciting, but the combustion instabilities and the pressure oscillations would make it very difficult to control. In addition, it would be noisier than the turbojet alternatives. My money is on Honeywell, although I doubt they have the capabilities to make a supersonic turbojet.

      There are of course a list of superb Russian design bureaus, but I doubt any would do business with a US company ;)

    2. Toobis Guest

      No such thing as a "superb Russian design bureau" and there never has been either.
      You must be confusing them with the Ukrainians, which at this point is sad how misguided you are.

    3. DCharlie Guest

      Toobis is too busy living in his delirium-ridden world! If it makes you feel any better, keep on believing your nonsense, buddy.

  25. derek Guest

    The article has a tweet about GE, PW, RR, and Safran.

    Other engine companies include Honeywell and Williams International. Williams doesn't have the experience so it's either Honeywell or smoke and mirrors.

  26. D3kingg Guest

    Shocked it’s not G E or Pratt Whitney. Lockheed Martin ? Raetheon ? Honda ?

    I’m flying on the inaugural flight for sure. I hope they launch ahead of schedule. Hopefully 2028.

    BOOM !

    1. DJ Guest

      Honda doesn't make turbine engines. The engine on the Honda jet is produced br GE.

    2. Rich Guest

      Sorry friend. The engine on the HondaJet IS produced by Honda Aero in Burlington NC. They just delivered their 500th HF120 engine. GE Honda Aero Engines is a 50-50 partnership.
      That having been said an engine for a SST is not in the cards.

  27. Randy Diamond

    Likely GE is my bet. GE is working on a new engine for the F35 for 2027. Currently Pratt and Whitney supplies the engine for the F35.

    1. Randy Diamond

      Wow - with a small player here for engines - I do not see this aircraft happening.

  28. Never In Doubt Guest

    It’s an announcement, of an announcement!

  29. whiskey tango foxtrot Guest

    The mythical TRIAD!

  30. Leo Liang Guest

    Will they show up with some fifteenth-handed mig-25 jets and claimed them to be the fastest jet available?

  31. Eli Guest

    There is probably a lot lot more people today that would pay a lot of money to get somewhere faster then in the days of the concorde. Even flying today is a lot more convenient.

    1. Nelson Gold

      Eli, I don't know if you ever entered a Concorde but I can assure you, today even in narrow bodies you have more space. Back in time a retour ticket in Concorde CDG-LHR/JFK costed around 20k$. Today you fly that Route in First for aprox the same amount on a Full Fare Ticket. Quite sure there isn't a market for Super Sonic today, not to mention the overfly restrictions who are still valid. I'm sure Super Sonic flying is dead, unless on Fighter Jets.

    2. Craig Whitley Guest

      Let's be positive about this possible supersonic commercial aircraft give them time and let Boom have a chance to prove themselves that the Overture will be viable and practical NASA has been And stiil working and testing a redesign supersonic Aircraft that doesn't make that sonic boom overland possibly Boom can consult NASA for suggestions for the Overture's design improvement where it doesn't make sonic booms sound instead of New to London it can be...

      Let's be positive about this possible supersonic commercial aircraft give them time and let Boom have a chance to prove themselves that the Overture will be viable and practical NASA has been And stiil working and testing a redesign supersonic Aircraft that doesn't make that sonic boom overland possibly Boom can consult NASA for suggestions for the Overture's design improvement where it doesn't make sonic booms sound instead of New to London it can be modified to fly anywhere and increase it's practicality I have total faith for what Boom is doing I'm positive that this plane will be successful

    3. Kev Guest

      Anyone who says that flying today is a lot more convenient obviously never took the the skies before 9/11/2001!

    4. Harry Guest

      You got that right! I can't think of anything in the entire experience that is better today. Ground, plane itself (TV screen maybe), FA ( not stewardess), food, passenger attire, passenger attitude, you name. Actually it was starting to decline in the mid to late 90s. Is what it is like a lot of stuff.

  32. Gull Air Guest

    Same date as United’s big announcement?

  33. Nelson Gold

    I'm completly with you Ben! I don't believe a second a supersonic "event" will ever happen, unless with Fighter Jets. But those doesn't use to be profitable.

    1. D3kingg Guest

      @Nelson

      I believe. I believe. BOOM !

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uldguy Diamond

I think the reason why none of the major engine builders have signed up to develop an engine for this white elephant project has nothing to do with them being “green”, though they certainly will try to use that as an excuse. The real reason is simple math. Even if their wildest dreams come true, the Overture will never be a big seller which means there really isn’t much of a market for the engine manufacturers. The costs to develop and certify an engine are huge. Balance that against the limited number of engines that ultimately will be sold means the whole project is a non-starter. The Concorde benefited from an engine manufacturer that was government owned. Making a profit wasn’t really a consideration. Prestige carried the day back then. Times have changed since then. I wish them all luck. But the likelihood of this being a commercial success for either company is very poor.

3
Mike Guest

The backup engine provider is Briggs and Stratton.

2
Steve Diamond

Surely they will soon announce a jv with BALTIA to provide feeder traffic for international flights.

2
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