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Supersonic Travel Is Within Reach With the New Overture Aircraft

Overture, Boom Supersonic
Image: Boom Supersonic

The future of flying will soon be revolutionised when supersonic aircraft hit the sky starting in 2029. Flights to far-flung destinations will be cut short and the speedy journey contributes to net-zero carbon emissions, which eventually takes over as the most preferred mode of travel compared to its subsonic counterparts.

About two decades before, the world had a taste of what it was like to travel faster than the speed of sound. A trip from London to New York took less than four hours. Undoubtedly, people were hooked on the idea of being on a Concorde flight that epitomised luxury, convenience and power. But the business of going supersonic was no bed of roses; in fact, it was destined to fail because of the many inherent problems that were associated with it. 

Eventually, Concorde was made to retire, and so were people’s dreams of soaring through the sky in the quickest possible time known to man. On the flip side, there was much to learn from Concorde’s short and glorious tenure. As the perfect case study, companies learn from the mistakes of the once acclaimed company and devise solutions to mitigate possible ramifications. Aircraft manufacturers have made strides of progress and along the way, rekindled the flames for supersonic travel.

Nearly two years after presenting its prototype to the world, Colorado-based aircraft company Boom Supersonic has unveiled new designs for Overture, one of the world’s first supersonic airliners. The soon-to-be commissioned jet will feature four engines instead of the two initially planned for in the earlier model. The Overture’s updated specifications include a high-aspect gull wing and a contoured fuselage, which is wider at the front and gradually tapers towards the rear. These modifications are made to improve aerodynamic efficiency of the Overture.

Overture, Boom Supersonic
Image: Boom Supersonic

According to Kathy Savitt, president and chief business officer of Boom Supersonic, the company did about 26 million hours of software simulation, several wind tunnel tests and over 50 design cycles were done before the current version was finalised. Overture is scheduled to go into production in 2024 and will hit a speed of March 1.7 over water while carrying a capacity of 65 to 80 passengers. Several commercial airline companies, such as United Airlines and Japan Airlines, have already placed their orders. 

Aside from the technical prowess of the Overture, the aircraft is optimised to run on purely sustainable aviation fuel. This is a step in the right direction for eliminating the aviation industry’s carbon footprint, which has been under scrutiny over the years for being one of the worst polluters. High fuel consumption was one of the factors that led to the collapse of Concorde, but now, it is the main selling point. 

“And today versus during the time of Concorde, we’re able to use carbon composite materials throughout our fuselage, on our wings and on the vertical tail, which allows us to be much more aerodynamic and far more efficient. This helps reduce drag, which takes up fuel, as well as to make the plane far more fuel efficient,” shares Savitt. 

Overture, Boom Supersonic
Image: Boom Supersonic

Besides addressing carbon pollution, the Overture is a silent beast fitted with the world’s first automated noise reduction system. A far cry from its predecessor, the Concorde was infamously loud, much to the dismay of many people.

Boom Supersonic is not the only player on the playing field. Fellow competitor Bombardier’s Global 8000 and Global 7500 models have both broken the sound barrier to achieving a speed of Mach 1.015. Furthermore, these aircraft also use sustainable aviation fuel. With so much new technology being developed, the aviation industry is moving at top speed to a brighter and cleaner future and we cannot wait to see how it will revolutionise the way people travel in the years to come.

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