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posted by janrinok on Tuesday September 20, @01:21PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the more-of-a-muffled-'pop' dept.

Boom's supersonic jet is facing a lack of interest from engine suppliers:

Boom recently lost its jet engine partner for the Overture supersonic jet, and other major engine manufacturers aren't interested in the project either, Insider has reported. After Boom signed an "engagement agreement" with Rolls-Royce for supersonic jet engines back in 2020, the latter announced last week that it had left the project. Now, other major jet engine manufacturers including Pratt & Whitney, GE Aviation, Honeywell and Safran Aircraft Engines have told FlightGlobal they're not currently interested in supersonic aircraft.

Boom said that the project is still on track, though, and that it will soon announce an engine partner. "We can reconfirm our intention to announce Boom's selected engine partner and transformational approach for reliable, cost-effective, and sustainable supersonic flight, later this year." Boom told Insider. The company has 20 airplanes on order from American Airlines and 15 from United. It plans to build build a factory in California and start flying passengers by 2029.

For its part, Rolls-Royce said that "after careful consideration... [we] have determined that the commercial aviation supersonic market is not currently a priority for us and, therefore, will not pursue further work on the program at this time."

Previously: Airlines are Trying to Resurrect the Concorde Era

Original Submission

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Airlines are Trying to Resurrect the Concorde Era 28 comments

Airlines are trying to resurrect the Concorde era:

American Airlines on Tuesday announced that it would purchase a fleet of 20 planes from Boom Supersonic, a startup building aircraft that can travel faster than the speed of sound. The order came after United Airlines announced last year that it would buy 15 of the company's Overture planes. Passenger flights aren't expected until the end of the decade, but if everything goes according to plan, commercial supersonic flight could return for the first time since the age of the Concorde.

Boom says its planes are designed to go at speeds twice as fast as a typical flight. That would be fast enough to get someone from Newark to London in just three and a half hours, and from Los Angeles to Honolulu in just three hours. The first of these flights is scheduled for 2026, and the company plans to start carrying passengers by 2029. If all works out, United has the option to buy at least 35 more planes from the startup; American has the option to buy another 40.

But there's another twist. Boom also wants to make these flights environmentally friendly, promising that these planes will be "net-zero carbon from day one," and rely completely on sustainable aviation fuel, which is repurposed from waste or organic sources.

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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Username on Tuesday September 20, @01:43PM

    by Username (4557) on Tuesday September 20, @01:43PM (#1272558)

    Shouldn't jet engines be the first thing CA bans in the climate change battle?

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, @02:30PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, @02:30PM (#1272566)

    Just from reading TFS this "project" sounds like the kind of marketing drivel that passes for research in biomedicine these days. Visionary leadership with a bold plan, just need suckers on the hook to pay for it and suckers on the hook to deliver it.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, @03:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, @03:36PM (#1272580)

      That's why they hire all those eggheads, to achieve the great vision of the upper management! They don't have to solve the problems, mind you, just make enough visible progress to bring in VC funding or to be bought up by one of the Big Boys.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by looorg on Tuesday September 20, @03:41PM (7 children)

    by looorg (578) on Tuesday September 20, @03:41PM (#1272581)

    Have they tried to pay them more? I'm sure RR, GE etc would be able to dust of their old engineering plans and update them if the right $ incentive was there. Clearly they don't think the market will be worth the effort to do so.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by PiMuNu on Tuesday September 20, @05:20PM (1 child)

      by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 20, @05:20PM (#1272588)

      > Have they tried to pay them more

      Exactly. If RR thought they could turn a profit they would do it. It's not just money - also risk profile (I would worry about risk that Boom goes bankrupt as well as technical risk on the project).

      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, @07:04PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, @07:04PM (#1272618)

        No no, all you need to do is figure out how to do it and produce a prototype that meets the Executive Board's high, high standards. Then you'll get a stake in Class B shares that you can redeem after the Class A shareholders have all cashed out + 5 years + non-compete clause + liable for all damages in the event of anything.

    • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday September 20, @09:17PM (4 children)

      by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday September 20, @09:17PM (#1272632)

      I'm sure that's a huge factor. Also, as I wrote down below, I wonder if there are too many military secrets in the current supersonic engine designs and nobody is allowed to sell them outside of military, and maybe (likely) not even allowed to admit it.

      Concorde was supersonic of course, but iirc the engines were quite inefficient, which would mean among many drawbacks, high CO2 and particulate carbon (soot) emissions.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by looorg on Tuesday September 20, @09:47PM (3 children)

        by looorg (578) on Tuesday September 20, @09:47PM (#1272639)

        That is a possibility. But I was under the impression that RR had some fairly decent engines around for the Concorde which could probably be updated since I just assume there have been great leaps in engine designs over the last couple of decades -- after all those design plans should now be about 50ish years old at least. I don't know if they were updated during the lifespan of the Concorde or not. But if there was an actual market they could or should just dust those off and update them. There shouldn't be any military secrets in those, or? At least non that half the world shouldn't have been able to recreate by now on their own. That said I guess those engines could have been redeveloped already and made part of other projects that are now under military purview.

        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by legont on Tuesday September 20, @10:45PM (2 children)

          by legont (4179) on Tuesday September 20, @10:45PM (#1272653)

          My guess is that supersonic engines went the same progress path as space rockets, namely nothing much since 50s.
          The field gets heavily invested by militaries all over the world, but requirements for civil ones are quite different. Probably only China can afford both as they have many companies working on it.

          "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
          • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Wednesday September 21, @11:15PM (1 child)

            by RS3 (6367) on Wednesday September 21, @11:15PM (#1272913)

            This Pratt & Whitney J58 engine [] is Mach 3.2 capable and was developed in the 1950s. List of aircraft it was used in is near the bottom, and also a list of comparable engines.

            So now my question for Boom is: it seems like there are a lot of great engines available. What do you need that they don't provide?

            (my guess: efficiency)

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by istartedi on Tuesday September 20, @05:36PM (13 children)

    by istartedi (123) on Tuesday September 20, @05:36PM (#1272594) Journal

    At least one of these companies is making engines for the F-35, so surely they have a price where they *would* be interested in making engines for Boom. This might just be hard-nosed negotiations.

    "Sure, we're interested in making supersonic engines for the military. We're just not interested in making them for you. Oh, what's this? A figure? Hmmm.... that's a bit more interesting.".

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, @07:10PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, @07:10PM (#1272619)

      With any luck this is a sign of what's happening in science, where the people who bothered spending 20+ years learning their craft have been squeezed out by hot guns who specialize in sucking on the govt grant teat and then outsourcing any "Winners" to short term contractors. The latter being those former scientists with the real skills, or a bunch of Chinese cowboys that need visas and can download a bunch of other stuff to put together some crap that nobody will ever look at except to grant a visa or, even better, a govt grant.

    • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday September 20, @09:09PM

      by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday September 20, @09:09PM (#1272630)

      I was thinking the same thing- there are already many jet engine companies making supersonic engines for military jets, and have been for what, 50 years or more?

      Maybe those engines have military secrets in the design, and said companies can't sell supersonic engines to anyone else, and probably aren't even allowed to admit that's the situation.

      You could argue there might be some room for non-military supersonic innovation (inventions, whatever) but fairly likely engine designers have developed the supersonic jet designs pretty thoroughly and there isn't much more they can do (without including military secrets).

      But it makes me wonder: could someone resurrect the Concorde engine design? Or is that now part of military secrets (if I'm right about that aspect).

    • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday September 20, @09:21PM

      by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday September 20, @09:21PM (#1272633)

      Oops, wish I could edit my last post. From

      The Olympus 593 Mk 610 engines that were installed in all the production Concordes remain to this day, the most efficient jet engines in the world at Mach 2, as far as thermal efficiency is concerned.

      So I'm not sure, more research needed (they sure seemed smoky though).

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by legont on Tuesday September 20, @10:48PM (9 children)

      by legont (4179) on Tuesday September 20, @10:48PM (#1272656)

      Military engines have quite different requirements. Have you ever heard F35 taking off close by? No, JFK will not allow it on regular basis.

      "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
      • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday September 20, @11:20PM (8 children)

        by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday September 20, @11:20PM (#1272662)

        Yes, interesting point. Wasn't that the same for Concorde? There were airports, or at least takeoff vectors that were not allowed due to the noise?

        • (Score: 2, Informative) by khallow on Tuesday September 20, @11:45PM (1 child)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 20, @11:45PM (#1272663) Journal
          Way back when, a Concord flew into the local podunk airport where I lived. They first flew in a big, subsonic circle around the airport. The noise was amazing.
          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RS3 on Wednesday September 21, @01:12AM

            by RS3 (6367) on Wednesday September 21, @01:12AM (#1272674)

            Just from memory, "off the cuff" as they say, I believe the Concorde wasn't particularly aerodynamic at lower speeds, so it had to use a lot of thrust, compared to other planes, to stay aloft at lower speeds. Remember how the cockpit was on a hinge- it would droop down so the pilots could see the ground, because the entire plane needed to be at a great angle to develop enough lift at low speeds. There are some good youtube videos on the Concorde, its engineering, designs, compromises and tradeoffs, etc.

            So sad what happened to the one that had the fire and horrible crash, and that probably hurt its reputation enough to scare off the people who would want to fly on it.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by istartedi on Wednesday September 21, @02:58AM (5 children)

          by istartedi (123) on Wednesday September 21, @02:58AM (#1272681) Journal

          I haven't seen the F-35 specifically take off, but I've been close to a Concorde takeoff and to several air shows
          with military jets. The Concorde was pretty dang loud, but there's more to it than just loudness. Blue angels
          doing a low pass from behind the grandstand will startle the f*** out of you (do they even allow that any more?).
          Ordinary subsonic jets throttling down over the house was always a bit unnerving. First time I heard that I thought
          the engine had gone out and it was gonna fireball into houses. If you have warning that the thing is coming, ie, it
          slowly builds to a crescendo then it's not so bad.

          I frequently saw Concorde from a distance as boy. That one time I was close was on the W and OD trail near
          Dulles airport. Low and loud. So glad I got to experience it once. Definitely would not have wanted to live
          near that.

          • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Wednesday September 21, @04:02AM (3 children)

            by RS3 (6367) on Wednesday September 21, @04:02AM (#1272688)

            Very similar experiences, including hearing the jets throttle down.

            I used to live maybe an hour or so from a major Naval air station and have seen Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, and lots of others. My favorite thing was when they'd come at you from behind, very low, supersonic so you couldn't hear them coming, afterburners kick on. Worse is you'd be watching something going on over the main field, so you were caught completely off guard. Not sure if they still fly that low over the crowd.

            I've never seen a Concorde, unfortunately. However I've been to a few drag races where they had jet and rocket cars. If you've never been to a major drag race, there is nothing like the sound of a "top fuel" or "funny car" running nitromethane. The sound can not be described, other than to say it makes the jet and rocket cars seem, well, silly at best. So anticlimactic that I'm not sure if anyone still runs them.

            Unfortunately I live not too far from a heliport and they give people rides on nice days, often quite low, maybe 200 or 250', over my neighborhood. I don't know what can be done about it, but I'd like it shut down. NIMBY!!

            I think my favorite and most amazing was watching an F-15 (I think, or F-16?) doing a vertical climb after takeoff.

            Also they did some stunts, including barrel roll (iirc) with a large plane, maybe a military 747 or something equally large. It was almost funny to see it lumbering through the roll, but super impressive.

            • (Score: 3, Informative) by istartedi on Wednesday September 21, @06:11AM (2 children)

              by istartedi (123) on Wednesday September 21, @06:11AM (#1272696) Journal

              I didn't think they allowed supersonic flight at airshows. The deal where
              you can't hear them coming is apparent even at 0.9 mach. I think it can
              be attributed to the fact that even though they're not ahead of all the sound,
              they're ahead of a lot of it. The noise profile is higher behind the plane and there
              is a lot of din to cover the approach. I think they got startling crowds down to a science.

              Did you verify that the planes were supersonic? I know I've seen some videos
              where they broke the sound barrier for civilians, but it was on an aircraft carrier
              out at sea, and the civilians were wives, kids, etc. of active duty personnel I think.
              I never went on one of those.

              I think the last time I went to an airshow the F-18 was state of the art.
              I think all the F-fighters were equally impressive to me at the time. Seeing
              a cargo plane vault in to the air with JATO was trippy. I remember some of
              the static displays too. They had a crash simulator--a cockpit chair on an
              incline. So of course I was like, "Can I try that?". LOL, no. They just loaded
              uniformed volunteers in it once in a while, maybe every hour on the hour.

              I also saw a working oscilloscope there for the first time, and heard the
              phrase "avionics". No bones about it, they were there to make the military
              industrial complex look cool. Mission accomplished.

              Another memory that sticks out is that on the way there, we passed an Amish
              buggy. Even then I was struck by the contrast of that with what we were about
              to witness.

              In general though, the air shows were a bonding experience with my Dad.

              • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Wednesday September 21, @03:41PM

                by RS3 (6367) on Wednesday September 21, @03:41PM (#1272790)

                I'm sure you're correct- not past 1.0 mach. But had to be close- I remember there wasn't much din happening- something very low-key going on far out to the right and the F-14 came in from the left. There was no sound until it was overhead. Another time he came in from behind the crowd. Great memories.

                Long ago (~40 years) they were allowing us civilians to tour inside the planes. I remember a C-130. They had one of those ginormous C-5 there too with the cargo ramps open and you could walk through. At that same show they actually allowed people to sit in the cockpit of some kind of fighter. Well, somehow someone activated the ejection seat. I'm quite sure they died. I was there with some friends, one was a military officer. We heard a "boom" from far away, but I didn't think anything of it. Military officer ran off immediately. He knew that sound wasn't right.

                Here are several references, and more: []

                The Amish are interesting and most people don't understand them. Most people think the Amish are anti-technology, or something. Not so. You see them with cell phones, for example. And solar panels powering pumps and stuff on their farms. They'll have and use battery-powered tools. So what gives? It's mostly that they don't want to be dependent on "English" (that's what they call the rest of us) society. So that includes anything they can't grow or make on their own, so gasoline, natural gas, grid electricity, municipal water and sewer, etc. When I lived near some Amish areas I'd see them in regular grocery stores- well, locally-owned stores, not so much the major national chain stores. One time I was with a friend who was from Germany. The Amish will speak in their German dialect, unless "English" get too near. I was hoping my German friend could hear them and tell me if she could understand them, but they quickly switched back to English. I've worked on some jobsites (doing grunt work- wiring) where there were some Amish carpenters. Very hard workers, fast, and stunning beautiful work quality, including some pretty fancy intricate finish carpentry.

                I'm glad you went with your dad. I never did. There were many things I wanted to do with him but he's gone now, so I remember the things we did do.

              • (Score: 3, Interesting) by legont on Wednesday September 21, @05:38PM

                by legont (4179) on Wednesday September 21, @05:38PM (#1272820)

                They don't go supersonic, but I've seen F35 on afterburners at dusk at Oshkosh doing aborted landing routine. No words can describe it.

                "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
          • (Score: 2) by legont on Wednesday September 21, @05:41PM

            by legont (4179) on Wednesday September 21, @05:41PM (#1272822)

            Blue Angels sounds like ducks compared to F35

            "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.