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
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.
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?