Boom Supersonic Looks To Rolls-Royce For Overture Engines

The prospect of supersonic passenger flights remains alive. It might be nearly two decades since a Concorde thundered out of an airport near you, but the dream of supersonic passenger flights is not dead. Boom Supersonic is pushing ahead with its plans to develop a supersonic passenger aircraft. Now, Boom Supersonic has announced they have teamed up with Rolls-Royce to work on the propulsion system.

Boom Supersonic has teamed up with Rolls-Royce to work on the engine to power the Overture. Photo: Boom Supersonic

Who is Boom Supersonic, and what are they up to?

Boom Supersonic is a Denver-based start-up. They plan to build a Mach 2.2 supersonic passenger aircraft called Overture. The aircraft will be able to fly 8,300 kilometers. Passenger flights are slated to begin in 2025.

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It might sound all a bit pie in the sky, but Boom Supersonic has secured considerable funding and multiple pre-orders. To date, the start-up has raised over US$150 million, including a successful $100 million fundraising effort last year. According to a 2017 report in FlightGlobal, there were then commitments from five customers to buy 76 Overtures. Those customers included Virgin Atlantic and Japan Airlines.

Boom Supersonic says there are 500 routes worldwide suitable for their 55 seat Overture. They aim to pitch the cost around the level of business class fares.

Boom Supersonic pushing ahead with its plans

Despite all the upheavals this year, Boom Supersonic is pushing ahead with its plans. It recently announced that that Overture’s demonstrator (called the XB-1), will debut in October. The XB-1 should make its first flight next year. If all goes well, Boom Supersonic will operate the first supersonic passenger flights since the end of the Concorde era in 2003.

Now, Boom Supersonic is deepening its relationship with British engine maker, Rolls-Royce. The two businesses have previously collaborated. That will step up as Boom goes shopping for engines for its Overture aircraft.

“We share a strong interest in supersonic flight and in sustainability strategies for aviation with Boom,” said Simon Carlisle, Director of Strategy at Rolls-Royce.

The XB-1 fuselage under development at Boom. Photo: Boom Supersonic

In a statement, Boom Supersonic said it and Rolls-Royce would enter into an “engagement agreement” to look at using Rolls-Royce engines in the Overture.

“The goal of the new agreement is to work together to identify the propulsion system that would complement Boom’s Overture airframe,” says Boom Supersonic.
Boom Supersonic says teams from both businesses would work together to identify a propulsion system that would complement the Overture’s airframe. They will look at changes that need to be made to existing engines and also the planned airframe.
Boom Supersonic sees a bright and sustainable future for supersonic passenger flights. Photo: Boom Supersonic

An environmentally-friendly supersonic aircraft? Is it possible?

Unlike the fuel-guzzling and decidedly non environmentally friendly Concorde, Overture plans to leave a smaller footprint in its wake. Both Boom Supersonic and Rolls-Royce are humming the mantras of sustainability, innovation, and zero net carbon futures. That is a formidable challenge when you are in the supersonic aircraft business. You also need to keep in mind that the end product needs to be affordable.
A supersonic aircraft with a zero net carbon future has no future if people cannot afford to fly on it.
If the Overture eventually takes flight powered by Rolls-Royce engines, it will continue the engine maker’s historical association with supersonic flying. Rolls-Royce famously made the engines that propelled the Concorde. Rolls-Royce’s Simon Carlisle said;
“We’re now building on our valuable experience in this space as well as our previous work together to further match and refine our engine technology for Boom’s Overture.”