Major airline bets on supersonic travel

American Airlines has ordered 20 supersonic Overture planes

US carrier American Airlines announced on Tuesday that it will purchase up to 20 Overture jets from aircraft maker Boom Supersonic, with an option for an additional 40 planes.

The deal is the second firm order in the past two years for Boom, which is still years from building its first commercial airplane. The Overture order book – including purchases and options from American Airlines, United Airlines, and Japan Airlines – currently stands at 130 aircraft.

“Supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver for our customers,” American’s chief financial officer, Derek Kerr, said in a statement announcing the order. The company is paying Boom an undisclosed amount as a nonrefundable deposit.

The supersonic jet is scheduled to roll off the production line from 2025 and will enter service by 2029. It will have a range of 4,250 nautical miles (4,890 miles, 7,870km) and will be able to carry up to 80 passengers. Overture will fly on sustainable aviation fuel, offering lower emissions at speeds of Mach 1.7 over water, which is twice the speed of today’s fastest commercial aircraft, though below the Concorde’s top speed of Mach 2.04 (2,167kph).

“Passengers want flights that are faster, more convenient, more sustainable and that’s what Overture delivers,” Boom CEO Blake Scholl told CNBC. “Flight times can be as little as half as what we have today, and that works great in networks like American where we can fly Miami to London in less than five hours,” he explained.

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