Fly LA to Beijing in 5 Hours? Inside Boom Supersonic‘s Audacious Plan

Imagine boarding a flight from Los Angeles to Beijing and arriving just 5 hours later – in half the time it takes today. Aerospace upstart Boom Supersonic believes its next-generation supersonic airliner called Overture can make this a reality by 2029.

Overture promises something the world hasn‘t seen since the last Concorde landed in 2003 – fast, sustainable long-haul flights connecting far-flung mega-cities in a fraction of current times. Boom CEO Blake Scholl describes it as the "son of Concorde" – updated with 21st century tech.

So can this Colorado-based startup defy skeptics and resuscitate mainstream supersonic travel? This analysis examines Overture‘s ambitious specifications, market dynamics, progress made, remaining hurdles and ultimate feasibility.

Boom Seeks To Mainstream Supersonic

Founded in 2014 by Amazon exec Blake Scholl, Boom Supersonic has raised over $270M at a $6B+ valuation to fund development of Overture. With 100+ staff and industry partners like Rolls-Royce, they‘ve made serious progress.

Overture is a 65-88 passenger, Mach 1.7 trijet optimized for speed, efficiency and capability. This supersonic airliner aims to fly London-New York in just 3.5 hours or connect Sydney to Los Angeles in 8 hours.

"Think about leaving New York in the morning, making afternoon tea in London and being home to tuck your kids into bed." – Scholl on Overture‘s potential.

But can Boom profitably mass produce such aircraft by 2029? And will regulation, noise or emissions ground their ambitions? We‘ll analyze the opportunities and obstacles.

Overture‘s Design – Concorde 2.0

Overture Leans heavily on proven supersonic concepts but modernizes systems and adds sustainability.

Fuselage – Sleek profile reduces drag for efficiency at high speeds. Features improved curvature, materials and gull-wing doors.

Engines – 4 custom medium-bypass turbofans by Rolls-Royce called Symphony. 30% more efficient than Concorde‘s Olympus engines. Optimized for supersonic cruise with afterburners to reach Mach 1.7.

Wings – Swept-back delta wing ideal for smooth supersonic flight. New composite build materials prevent heat expansion limiting top speed.

Cockpit – 4K touch displays provide pilots critical flight data and situational awareness aid safe operations.

Cabin – Spacious single-aisle widebody layout seats 65-88 passengers. Almost 2x Concorde‘s capacity. Offers business class comfort including in-flight connectivity.

Materials – Extensive lightweight carbon composites throughout the airframe boost fuel efficiency. Also more durable and thermally stable than old aluminum designs at high speeds.


SpecificationOvertureConcorde% Improvement
Top SpeedMach 1.7Mach 2.0-15%
Engines4 x Medium Bypass4 x Low Bypass+30% efficiency
Seating Capacity65-8892-12888% of Concorde
Minimum Runway10,000 ft10,000 ft
Range4250 nm4000 nm+6%
MaterialsAdvanced CompositesAluminum Alloys+15% thermal tolerance

How Overture aims to enhance on the iconic Concorde design

Strong Demand Signals

Can supersonic airliners once again become commercially viable? Early airline order commitments suggest so. To date, Boom has agreements with United for 15 Overtures and options for 35 more, plus similar deals from Japan Air and Virgin Atlantic.

Driving this demand is the continual growth of global business travel spending – forecast to top $1.7 trillion annually by 2024 according to the GBTA.

And an increasing percentage of these corporate trips are intercontinental. In a fierce market, saving 50% travel time strengthens competitive positioning and productivity. Employees can manage more meetings, seal more deals and accelerate promotion pacing racking up air miles at supersonic speed.

Projected Growth in Global Business Travel Spend Through 2026

Boom‘s orders suggest airlines see supersonic flight as the next differentiation.

Leisure demand should also surge with more affordable weekend getaways to exotic global hotspots suddenly feasible if flight times shrink substantially.

Environmental Factors

But what about the sustainability impacts of flying faster and burning more fuel? Won‘t emissions negate efficiency gains? Boom argues no – modeling shows supersonic flights can cut total carbon output in half.

The key insight is while Overture does consume up to 2X more fuel per hour cruising at Mach 1.7, the huge time savings per trip far outweigh the hourly rate spikes.

Comparison of Relative Emissions Based on Flight Duration

Shorter flights shrink total emissions despite higher per hour fuel burn

For a sample Los Angeles to Tokyo route, Overture would cut total emissions by 53% versus current aircraft, even when running on conventional jet fuel. But when paired with 100% sustainable aviation fuels, gains hit 63%.

And that calculation assumes a fully loaded plane. For a typical occupancy, relative savings jump above 70%. When you further account for next decade engine advancements, noise reduction efforts and offsets, Overture begins to transform from climate culprit to sustainability savior in the eyes of regulators.

Remaining Development Roadblocks

Given aerospace‘s immense complexity, plenty could still delay or derail Boom‘s 2029 timeline reaching commercialization. Top concerns include:

Funding – Boom requires $6B+ more to complete Overture‘s development including building full scale demonstrators. An IPO likely looms getting retail investors to shoulder risk.

Engine Maturity – While proven concepts, Boom‘s bespoke Symphony turbofans aren‘t flying yet. Substantial testing is still needed ensuring stable, efficient and quiet supersonic cruise. 2026 is the target for first test flights.

Certification Complexity – As a whole new class of aircraft, Overture must meet intense scrutiny from bodies like the FAA and EASA who will rightfully mandate years of trials before carrying fare-paying passengers.

Airspace Regulations – Rules banning overland supersonic flight must evolve allowing efficient routing and noise concerns to be addressed via technical mitigations over political constraints.

Market Uncertainty – Macroeconomic, geopolitical or pandemic issues could slow globalization limiting premium travel budgets. Hard to predict 2030 market dynamics in 2023.

Yet Boom‘s CEO remains adamant Overture is the Concorde successor the world needs. Bullish on investor appetite and citing 350+ routes where ultra-fast travel unlocks new value, Scholl calls commercial supersonic flight "inevitable within a decade”. But inevitably alone may not suffice as Boeing‘s 737 Max saga highlighted. Only flawless execution can transform Boom‘s bold vision into next generation aviation reality.

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