The Boom Overture jet is vying to become the first supersonic Air Force One — here’s an early look

Boom Supersonic
With new funding from the Air Force, Boom plans to explore ways to customize the Overture — both inside and out — for government work.
  • Aerospace startup Boom Supersonic just won a US Air Force contract to develop jets that can carry high-ranking government officials at faster than the speed of sound.
  • The supersonic jet — which could potentially even serve as Air Force One — could cut trans-oceanic travel times in half, and would be ready in about nine years.
  • Boom will launch a demonstrator aircraft later this year. Once it proves that its concept works, it will begin building a full-size supersonic jetliner.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Faster-than-sound travel is the way of the future for the US government.

Aerospace company Boom Supersonic this week announced a contract with the US Air Force to develop a supersonic plane for transporting diplomats and high-ranking government officials.

The contract will fund research into building new, mission-appropriate configurations of its conceptual supersonic passenger plane, called Overture.

Boom has designed the Overture, which is still in development, as a single-aisle business class plane, with seats laid out in a 1-1 configuration. With the new funding from the Air Force, Boom plans to explore ways to customize the plane — both inside and out — for government work.

"By cutting travel times we make it possible for US diplomats and executive leaders to connect more frequently in person, meeting challenges and defusing potential crises with a personal touch," Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl said in a press release.

"We are extremely excited to team with [Boom] as we work to shrink the world and transform the future of executive airlift," Brigadier General Ryan Britton, who directs the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate, added.

Boom plans to introduce a demonstrator airplane, XB-1, later this year, with flight tests beginning in 2021. Once the technology and engineering is proven safe and efficient, the company said it will begin test flights with the larger Overture airliner. Those flights are expected to begin in 2025, with final certification of the plane targeted for 2029.

Boom Supersonic Overture
Boom says that the plane is designed to seat passengers in a 1-1 layout with a single aisle.

According to Boom, the plane can succeed in a space where the only previous commercial option, the famed Concorde failed, thanks to improved economics achieved through newer, more efficient technology. Boom says the plane should be able to operate more safely, quietly, and cost-effectively than the Concorde, while cutting trans-oceanic travel times in half compared to today's passenger jets. 

Boom also says that passenger fares on the Overture can be lower than on the Concorde, due to the lower operating cost — tickets are expected to cost about on par with today's long-haul business class tickets.

Boom is not the only company that the Air Force has tapped to develop faster-than-sound travel. Last month, the Defense department awarded a contract to another startup, Hermeus, to develop a new Air Force One that can travel at hypersonic speeds, or Mach 5.

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