Chicago-based US legacy carrier and Star Alliance founding member United Airlines made waves in the aviation industry earlier this week. It did so by announcing the confirmation of its order for 15 supersonic Boom Overture airliners. It also has options for 35 more. With the aircraft touted to enter service by the end of the decade, let’s take a look at how it compares to the last supersonic airliner. We are, of course, talking about the legendary Concorde.
Dimensions and capacity
Pitting the Overture head to head against Concorde in terms of their specifications is a good way of examining how far supersonic aerospace has come along over the years. The two aircraft are very similar in length, with Concorde measuring 202 feet and four inches (61.67 meters) long, and the Overture clocking in at 205 feet (62.48 meters).
This might have led you to believe that the Overture would edge Concorde in terms of capacity. However, it is set to sport a spacious, premium-configured 1-1 cabin, which will reduce this figure to between 65 and 88 passengers. Meanwhile, the 2-2 configured Concorde accommodated between 92 and 120 guests (128 with a high-density spec).
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Much like Concorde, the Overture will cruise at an altitude of 60,000 feet. However, it will slightly lag behind its European predecessor in terms of cruising speed. Despite previous reports having touted a cruising speed of Mach 2.2, this has now been tuned down to Mach 1.7. Meanwhile, Concorde was famously able to cruise at around twice the speed of sound.
However, while a slower aircraft, the Overture has a more sustainable emphasis. Indeed, its production is planned to be net-zero in terms of carbon emissions right from its launch. It will also run on sustainable fuel. The Overture beats Concorde in terms of range, managing 7,870 km (4,250 NM). Meanwhile, Concorde’s range was 7,222.8 km (3,900 NM).
Each aircraft’s routes
In the aftermath of United’s announcement, Simple Flying took a look at which routes it might deploy the Overture on. Generally speaking, its specifications and the premium-heavy markets to which it will be best suited may somewhat limit the corridors for which it is an appropriate aircraft. In this sense, it may end up being similar to Concorde.
Of course, the legendary British-French airliner was best known for its supersonic crossings of the North Atlantic Ocean. These typically saw Air France and BA deploy Concorde from London and Paris to New York and Washington, sometimes in under three hours. As such, it is thought that United might like to deploy the Overture from US East Coast hubs like Newark and Washington to key European destinations like London and Frankfurt.
The order books
As we have established, United Airlines has been the first carrier to take the next big step towards the return of commercial supersonic air travel. Its announcement of an order for 15 Boom Overture aircraft (and 35 options) earlier this week has provoked excitement among the airline industry. But how do these figures compare to Concorde’s orders?
Interestingly, United’s 15 firm orders for the Overture outrank the number of production examples of Concorde that Aérospatiale and BAC built. All in all, just 14 passenger-carrying Concorde’s operated revenue-earning flights: seven each for Air France and BA.
However, several more airlines had provisional orders for the legendary supersonic jet that they later canceled. All in all, 16 carriers (in addition to Air France and BA) had options for Concorde, totaling around 100 aircraft. United was one of these, with six options. As such, it will be interesting to see both whether it follows through with its Boom Overture order, and how many other airlines will follow United’s suit and also order the type. Watch this space…
Are you looking forward to seeing the Boom Overture at United Airlines? Were you ever lucky enough to fly on Concorde? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.